Galli glides back into form on opening day of Rally d’Italia Sardegna
The Stobart VK M-Sport Ford rally team occupy a strong position on the leaderboard on conclusion of the opening day of Rally d’Italia Sardegna; round six of the FIA World Rally Championship. Gigi Galli/Giovanni Bernacchini lead the way after setting five top-three fastest stage times out of a possible six, including a fastest time on stage 4.

Galli is currently nestled in sixth position just 3.3 seconds adrift of fifth place. Team-mates Matthew Wilson/Scott Martin lie in 14th and will restart tomorrow with just over a one minute gap from a top-ten position.

Competing on his ‘home’ event Galli was unlucky not to finish the day in a podium position after a small puncture on stage 2 this morning cost him crucial time. Despite picking up the puncture in the early part of the 33.96 kilometre Crastazza stage, the Italian made the correct decision to drive on the flat Pirelli Scorpion tyre which held up miraculously well losing him only one minute.

Wilson’s day kicked off with a concerned start after losing an uncharacteristically large amount of time over the morning loop of stages. The time loss was a result of incorrect setup to his Stobart Ford Focus RS WRC07 but thanks to the help of his technical team, changes were made in service and the 21-year-old was back on track setting vastly improved stage times this afternoon.

Stage 3 and its repeated run on stage 6 caused some issues for Galli after he overshot the same junction on both tests. Luckily for the Italian no damage was caused as he still managed to score the third fastest stage time on both attempts at the 15.39 kilometre stage.

For Wilson the only other issue was slight brake loss on the monster second stage which was the longest of the event. This problem too however was rectified in Service A and he returned in the afternoon with fully restored artillery.

The event kicked off yesterday evening in the exclusive holiday resort of Porto Cervo in-front of thousands of excited rally fans. Shakedown proved a positive for the Stobart team with Galli setting the fastest time over the test session.

Today started off with a light drizzle under grey skies, sending drivers out to stage 1 unclear of what conditions to expect. Slippery roads are what met crews on the opening test which sorted the men from the boys as confidence played a big part on the tricky surface.

Tomorrow will offer crews a similar route to day 1 with two loops of three identical stages being run over 135 kilometres of competitive distance. The six stages will take place in a similar region to today’s leg which ran to the south of Rally HQ in Olbia.

Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Driver Gigi Galli said:
“Today has been a good start to my home event and the feeling with the car is really good as you can see from my fastest time, the only problem was the puncture on stage 2 when we ran wide on a corner and hit some rocks. We were quite lucky because the Pirelli tyres remained strong and did their job and stayed on the rim until the end of the stage. Things are going well, the car feels good and the plan is to push some more tomorrow and see if we can close the gap on the leaders.”

Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Driver Matthew Wilson said:
“I just didn’t have the feeling this morning and the car is very unpredictable in these conditions. We made some changes in service to the setup of the car which helped massively and my confidence was much higher in the afternoon. It was a really good improvement on the afternoon stages and it all felt a lot better than the morning loop of stages. We had a small issue with the brakes which hopefully we can resolve tonight and the plan is to continue to improve tomorrow and over the rest of the rally.”

Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Principal Malcolm Wilson said:
“It’s been a superb performance by Gigi but he just got caught out on one of the many rocks that line the roads but he has put up a great fight-back and is very much within striking distance of a podium finish. His puncture proved just how strong the Pirelli tyres are as he was able to make it to the end of the stage in one piece. Matthew struggled this morning with his general setup but seems to have made some important changes at midday service and he is now very focused on improving his pace tomorrow.”

Leaderboard after Day 1
1. S Loeb/D Elena 1hr 31min 27.6sec
2. D Sordo/M Marti 1hr 32min 03.3sec
3. P Solberg/P Mills 1hr 32min 21.4sec
4. M Hirvonen/J Lehtinen 1hr 32min 26.5sec
5. C Atkinson/S Prévot 1hr 32min 36.6sec
6. G Galli/G Bernacchini 1hr 32min 39.9sec
7. J-M Latvala/M Anttila 1hr 32min 58.7sec
8. H Solberg/C Menkerud 1hr 33min 20.1sec
9. U Aava/K Sikk 1hr 33min 47.4sec
10 T Gardemeister/T Tuominen 1hr 33min 50.5sec

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