Stobart start strong in Finland
FIA World Rally Championship

Neste Oil Rally Finland, 2–5 August 2007

Update after SS1

After a clean run of tests at this morning’s shakedown, the Stobart VK M–Sport Ford rally team hit the opening, 2.06 kilometre, Killeri super–special in northern Jyväskylä this evening. Shakedown gave all three crews the opportunity to get a feel for the car after two months off over the summer break.

Official rally time hit 20:00 as the first two cars opened proceedings at Neste Oil Rally Finland, round nine of the 2007 FIA World Rally Championship. The duel–lane super–special was lined with tens of thousands of Finnish spectators who flock to this rally – Finland’s only FIA sanctioned world motorsport event.

Earlier in the evening Stobart crews took part in the official rally show which included live interviews and an autograph session within the Paviljonki Service Park.

Henning Solberg/Cato Menkerud began well winning their battle against Argentine Luis Perez Companc to finish in ninth position after stage 1. Local boys Jari–Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila also started strong, heading into tomorrow morning’s stages in sixth position. Third Stobart team–mates, Matthew Wilson/Michael Orr, fought a fast battle against Juho Hänninen to finish the day in 20th position overall.

Tomorrow’s stages take crews through 131 kilometres of high–speed competitive action predominantly east of Rally HQ in Jyväskylä.

Stobart VK M–Sport Ford Team Driver Jari–Matti Latvala said:
"I’m quite satisfied with the stage tonight, however I did make a couple of small mistakes and lost a little amount of time. There were lots of spectators on the stage and it’s good for me to have all the support. The first stage tomorrow is a good test, fast but narrow and I think it is a good stage to start the rally; I’m really looking forward to it."

Stobart VK M–Sport Ford Team Driver Henning Solberg said:
"The car is feeling good now and I’m happy with how it went on shakedown and the stage tonight and it was an enjoyable way to kick off the rally. I am looking forward to tomorrow but I will be careful at the start and try to build my speed up during the rally."

Stobart VK M–Sport Ford Team Driver Matthew Wilson said:
"I made two small mistakes at the first corner of each lap and lost some time on the stage tonight. The rally starts for real tomorrow and the first stage is a real ’Welcome to Finland’ stage. I feel prepared for this rally after the summer break and we’ll see how things go tomorrow."

Stobart VK M–Sport Ford Team Principal Malcolm Wilson said:
"It was good to see everybody got through the stage tonight, unscathed and without any problems. There will definitely be a bigger difference tomorrow after the first 17 kilometre stage."

Leaderboard after SS1
1. C Atkinson/S Prevot AUS Subaru Impreza 1m 20.6sec
2. M Gronholm/T Rautiainen FIN Ford Focus RS +0.2sec
3. S Loeb/D Elena F Citroen C4 +0.3sec
4. D Sordo/M Marti E Citroen C4 +0.6sec
5. P Solberg/P Mills N Subaru Impreza +0.7sec
6. J–M Latvala/M Anttila FIN Ford Focus RS +1.1sec
7. M Hirvonen/J Lehtinen FIN Ford Focus RS +1.3sec
8. M Stohl/I Minor A Citroen Xsara +1.9sec
9. H Solberg/C Menkerud N Ford Focus RS +2.1sec
10.J Hänninen/M Markkula FIN Mitsubishi Lancer +2.2sec
20. M Wilson/M Orr GB Ford Focus RS +4.7sec

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