Galli and Wilson seek points for Stobart in sunny Sardinia
The Mediterranean island of Sardinia awaits the Stobart VK M-Sport Ford rally team as the crews travel there for the sixth round of the FIA World Rally Championship next weekend, Rally d’Italia Sardegna. The event marks a special occasion for team members Gigi Galli/Giovanni Bernacchini who tackle their ‘home’ event for the first time ever with the Stobart team.

For Brits Matthew Wilson/Scott Martin, Sardinia will be the second event in which the pair will be nominated to score manufacturer points for the team this season. With regulars Henning Solberg/Cato Menkerud transferring to the Munchi’s Ford squad for this rally, it is the perfect opportunity for Wilson to showcase the talent which saw him pick up fifth on last month’s Jordan Rally.

After a super display in Jordan where all three members of the Stobart team collected points, the gap to third in the Manufacturers’ Championship is now just 10 points; a margin the side will be looking to close come Sunday afternoon in Sardinia.

This will be Galli’s seventh attempt at an Italian round of the WRC and his third on this island. His best result came in 2004 where he finished sixth outright and first in GpN. After missing the event last season the Italian is raring to go and, urged along by the large crowds who travel to the island for Italy’s premier off-road event, will be seeking his second podium finish of the season.

Last year’s event was a positive one for Wilson despite retiring on day two with broken suspension in ninth position. This year the 21-year-old will be looking to capitalise on experience gained over the last two years and claim his first points finish on the event. The youngster is intently focussed on another points haul after two top-six results in Mexico and Jordan launched him into the championship top-ten.

Crews will begin by crossing the start ramp on Thursday evening at Porto Cervo - an ultra-exclusive marina resort in the heart of the island’s tourist orientated north-east and set in the heart of the rugged Costa Smeralda region. Service Park for the event will be the Olbia Port which is a major shipping terminal for the island. Temperatures will offer crews a pleasant change from the 45C experienced in Jordan with an average of around 20C whilst energy and passion will be in abundance as the stages are flooded with flamboyant Italian rally fans who flock from the mainland to experience world class rallying at its finest.

Eighteen World Rally Cars are due to take to the start of Rally Sardinia next week ahead of 344.73 kilometres of competitive action over 17 testing stages. Competitors will face the challenge of sandy, narrow stages littered with rocks just inches from the ultimate racing line.

The Stobart team’s tyre supplier Pirelli will again provide a hard-compound rubber through their new Scorpion tyre range. Known to be a notoriously tough event and one of attrition, it will be another good test for Pirelli and their new range of higher-durability tyres.

Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Driver Gigi Galli said:
“Well finally we have come to my home rally! Sardinia is a very nice island, quite wild in some parts, and some of the stages run through beautiful landscapes. I’ve taken part in this race a few times since it was moved to Sardinia in 2004. It is a very technical, tricky and difficult rally with very hard gravel roads and lots of loose stones. One of the stages I like most is Monte Lerno, the one with a very big jump that is so easy to catch out unwary drivers. I really look forward to getting there, to see all the Italian fans, and hopefully we can find the right rhythm and pace from the beginning.”

Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Driver Matthew Wilson said:
“I’m looking forward to this event next week and it will be good to race back in Europe after three long hauls on the run. Last year I was running just outside the points before we retired but the feeling was good and the notes were working well so hopefully we can develop on this a bit more and finish in the points. Unlike Jordan the event won’t be as physically demanding with the heat but it can be very rough in places so 100 percent concentration will be the key to finishing this event without problems. I am pleased to be scoring for the Stobart team again this year. Jordan was a good result for us and I’m confident we can post a strong points finish here for the team.”

Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Principal Malcolm Wilson said:
“This event will provide another good opportunity for the Stobart team to pick up some good results after a fine effort in Jordan where all three crews finished in the points. I was pleased that Gigi found his pace in Jordan and hopefully he can take this speed into his home rally; I feel confident he’ll be battling for a podium here. With Henning competing in the Munchi’s Ford team Matthew has another opportunity to score points for his team. He picked up a good haul in Mexico and, with increased confidence after a strong finish in Jordan, I think he can help to move the team forward in the championship.”

Event Information
Date: 16-18 May 2008
Round: 6 of 16 FIA World Rally Championship
Based: Olbia, Sardinia
Stage surface: Gravel
Total stage distance: 344.73km
Number of stages: 17
Longest stage: 33.96km (SS2 & SS5)
Central Service Park: Olbia Port
Ceremonial start: Porto Cervo

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