Stobarts keep podium chase alive
FIA World Rally Championship

ADAC Rallye Deutschland, 17–19 August 2007

Final Report

Round ten of the FIA World Rally Championship, ADAC Rallye Deutschland, has proved to be a successful points catch for the Stobart VK M–Sport Ford rally team. Both nominated points–scoring crews, Jari–Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila and Henning Solberg/Cato Menkerud, have scored points for the team with Latvala bagging himself a drivers point to boot.

In total the team earned five manufacturers’ points, still well in the race for a podium spot in the Manufacturers’ Championship sitting just three points behind Japanese manufacturer Subaru. Latvala’s eighth place overall means he claims his first ever drivers’ point on tarmac. Topping things off, Matthew Wilson/Michael Orr drove extremely well to finish ninth overall, their best asphalt result to–date.

Twenty–two world rally cars drove through the historical Porta Nigra, an ancient Roman gate in the heart of Trier, as the second tarmac rally for 2007 got underway. Weather conditions, unlike previous years, stayed fairly dry as crews took on the 356.27 kilometres of asphalt action.

The event setting was south–west Germany based in the rich winery region of Trier. All three legs offered a mixed bag with the opening based through vineyards north of Rally HQ, the second in the famous Baumholder military range and the final day over tricky closed road stages alongside the Moselle River.

On his 50th WRC start Solberg began the event which he was contesting for the first time in his nine year WRC career. Things began cautiously for the Norwegian as he looked to gain maximum experience miles on just his third ever tarmac rally. Unfortunately an incident 2.3 kilometres into stage 5 retired him from leg 1 when an impact under braking damaged the suspension of his Stobart Ford Focus RS WRC06.

Leg 2 proved to be a similar story when, again on the penultimate test, Erzweiler, the Norwegian came unstuck when he hit a large rock with the right wheel breaking the suspension and immediately retiring him from the day. Fortunately his final leg was much more positive setting two top–ten stage times over the final two stages of the rally.

Latvala used the opening leg to regain his confidence on tarmac with his last rally on the surface back in January for Rallye Monte Carlo. His Saturday began extremely well setting two top–six stage times as he started to feel more comfortable with the car moving to seventh outright.

However, during the next stage, Panzerplatte, he encountered problems as he didn’t have time to check the tyre pressures before the start of the stage. This resulted in a loss of grip as well as valuable seconds. Still the young Finn battled back strong over the third leg to finish with the final drivers’ point.

British driver Wilson also used the first day as a learning curb on his second Rally Germany outing, getting through without any major issues apart from a big moment on the 23.04 kilometre second stage when an ambitious cut bounced his Focus RS onto two wheels nearly flipping it over itself.

Leg’s 2 and 3 worked better for the youngster but the changing surface and damp sections of tarmac caused slight problems with his pacenote system. Still it was a sterling performance and a confidence boosting experience ahead of the 3 reaming tarmac rallies in the 2007 season.

Stobart Motorsport’s Barry Clark and co–driver Scott Martin have claimed their first ever international championship by winning the 2007 Fiesta SportingTrophy International at this weekend’s ADAC Rally Deutschland. Clark has shown a phenomenal dominance over the FSTi series winning all five rounds this year, powering to championship victory with two rounds to spare.

Stobart VK M–Sport Ford Rally Team Driver Henning Solberg said:
"The rally was always going to be hard for me as I have not competed on many tarmac events before and I knew I would have a tough weekend ahead. It was difficult to learn about driving here and to get a good feeling on asphalt as the stages have different surfaces, very slippery and so easy to make a mistake. I’m disappointed that I didn’t get all the stages completed but we have learnt a lot here and the set–up of the car will now be better for the next asphalt event in Spain. The car has worked perfectly and I think that some of the things I have picked up on this rally will also help me with my driving style on a gravel surface. We have got some points for the team so that has also been a bonus."

Stobart VK M–Sport Ford Rally Team Driver Jari–Matti Latvala said:
"This has been a good but very difficult event. We came here to finish the rally, complete all the stages and get more experience. This is exactly what we have done and as a bonus we have scored both driver and manufacturer points. On the other side, my speed has not been as good as I would have liked but I have learnt a lot here. My confidence was not good when the road was dirty and in the cuts but this is what I need to learn. This championship is all about experience and I know that I need to get more to be able to increase my speed safely. But the car and tyres have been fantastic and we have done a good job here; now the confidence will be good going into New Zealand."

Stobart VK M–Sport Ford Rally Team Driver Matthew Wilson said:
"It was good to get to the end of the rally and finish every stage but I wasn’t happy with my pace but this is one of those rallies that is hard to get into a rhythm because of the different types of surfaces. This makes it really hard to learn how you should drive on a tarmac event. I made a couple of silly mistakes during the weekend which cost us time here and there but it all adds up in the end. Still we were lucky with the weather this weekend and it is important for me to have finished all the stages and get the mileage. All weekend we were receiving excellent information from our safety crew which made it a lot easier to push harder over the stages."

Stobart VK M–Sport Ford Rally Team Principal Malcolm Wilson said:
"Firstly from a team point of view it’s great that the Stobart team has lost no points to Subaru in the race for third in the Manufacturers’ Championship. It’s fair to say that all three drivers probably learnt more than anyone on this event which puts them all in a good position for next year. Henning has learnt a lot on this rally which will help him on future asphalt events. Jari has learnt where he has to improve and knows the more defined areas he needs to work on. Matt too picked up a lot from this and he, along with Jari, have again seen the importance of preserving tyres. Again this is a big learning curve for all these guys that everyone needs to go through. Congratulations to Barry Clark and Scott Martin on their win in the 2007 Fiesta SportingTrophy International. Barry has been a dominating force in the FSTi winning every rally but more importantly gaining valuable experience for future world events."

Final Leaderboard
1. S Loeb/D Elena +3h 27m 27.5sec
2. F Duval/P Pivato +20.3sec
3. M Hirvonen/J Lehtinen +1m19.1sec
4. M Gronholm/T Rautiainen +1m36.5sec
5. J Kopecky/F Schovanek +3m07.1sec
6. P Solberg/P Mills +3m14.7sec
7. T Gardemeister/J Honkanen +3m37.5sec
8. J–M Latvala/M Anttila +5m29.3sec
9. M Wilson/M Orr +11m04.2sec
10. G Wilks/P Pugh +19m47.8sec
13. H Solberg/C Menkerud +27m02.0sec

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