Stobart strike back with Galli in Sardinia
Day 2 of Rally d’Italia Sardegna has seen Gigi Galli/Giovanni Bernacchini fire with all guns blazing as they moved to fourth position overall on this sixth round of the FIA World Rally Championship. Stobart VK M-Sport Ford rally team-mates Matthew Wilson/Scott Martin have put in a steady effort moving to 11th overall and just 12.5 seconds off a top-ten place.

The leap to fourth place sees Galli just 48.3 seconds off BP Ford Abu Dhabi drivers Mikko Hirvonen and Jari-Matti Latvala who hold second place on equal times. Day 2 of his home event saw the Italian advance two places on his overnight position from day 1.

Wilson set out this morning in 14th place but thanks to a day of confident driving he was able to advance three positions to hold his place just outside the top-ten. From a Manufacturers’ Championship point-of-view the young Brit is just two positions away from the points.

Galli’s superb run continued today as he finished every stage within the top four fastest drivers. The only issues were a small spin on stage 8 followed by a heavy impact on stage 10 which cracked the windscreen of his Stobart Ford Focus RS WRC07 causing visibility issues for the remaining two stages of the day.

Wilson began with a vast improvement on yesterday’s drive which was hampered with setup issues. On it right from the start the 21-year-old struck problems with his brakes on the second stage this morning but fortunately his Stobart team were able to locate and rectify the issue in service, allowing him to head back out for this afternoon’s loop with a faultless Focus RS.

Of the original 57 starters, 54 began day 2 which offered some spectacular action over 135 kilometres of competitive distance. Of the six stages run today it was Punta Pianedda (stages 7 & 10) which caught out several drivers with a deceptive jump which launched several cars, unexpectedly, high into the air.

With stages predominately dry, conditions favoured crews running down the order as the front runners were left to sweep the loose gravel from the roads. Today also saw two passes over the 29.31 kilometre Monte Lerno test which is home to an impressive jump fully accessible to spectators.

Conditions were by no means typically Mediterranean as rained, followed by a thunder storm, hampered the service park in Olbia. Fortunately for crews the stages - which ran approximately 65 kilometres from Rally HQ - stayed dry with only patches of moistness remaining from yesterday’s showers.

With the top-five crews all within just over one minute of each other, tomorrow is set to be a close battle to conclude the WRC’s sixth round. Only 78.57 kilometres lie between crews and the finish line of Rally Sardinia which will see two stages run twice tomorrow before the event comes to a close with a run over the 2.69 kilometre Liscia Ruja stage – to be televised live for Italian rally fans.

Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Driver Gigi Galli said:
“I am very happy with this day as this morning I was worried that our pace would not be fast enough but it was good and we kept things steady during the day. The Pirelli tyres have stood up well to the tough conditions and my only mistake today was a small spin where we dropped around 10 seconds. My plan tomorrow is to do what we did today and hopefully we can stay ahead of Sordo; for me this is very important as we don’t get a chance to do any testing. It’s a fast pace out there and I need to keep pushing hard but not make any mistakes.”

M-Sport Ford Team Driver Matthew Wilson said:
“Today was a lot more positive than yesterday and we started off well this morning and were able to make up a few places by lunchtime. At midday service my technician made some positive adjustments to the rear dampers and the balance of the car was much better. This obviously helped my confidence and we had a good run through the afternoon stages and our times were noticeably improved from yesterday. The plan for tomorrow is more of the same and I’m aiming to finish the rally on a high.”

Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Principal Malcolm Wilson said:
“Gigi has posted some fantastic times in his fight back up the leaderboard today and he has driven sensibly and not taken any risks at all. It’s been great for him to move up a couple of places and it will be difficult tomorrow for him to keep Sordo behind. But I think that with the pace he has shown today he should be able to maintain fourth and get some good points. Matthew has improved a lot during the day and has progressively got quicker and that will obviously help with his confidence for the final day tomorrow.”

Day 2 Leaderboard
1. S Loeb/D Elena 2h59m21.5s
2. J-M Latvala/M Attila +29.4s
=. M Hirvonen/J Lehtinen +29.4s
4. G Galli/G Bernacchini +1m17.7s
5. D Sordo/M Marti +1m31.3s
6. C Atkinson/S Prevot +2m42.1s
7. H Solberg/C Menkerud +4m29.0s
8. U Aava/K Sikk +4m34.5s
9. P-G Andersson/J Andersson +5m45.9s
10. P Solberg/P Mills +7m29.2s

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