Solberg tops shakedown as Stobart gear up for Finnish opener
Round nine of the FIA World Rally Championship kick started this evening as 99 crews tackled the 2.06 kilometre opening super special stage of the Neste Oil Rally Finland. Starting the second half of the 2008 season strong for the Stobart VK M-Sport Ford rally team was Henning Solberg/Cato Menkerud who set the fastest time over the 3.76 kilometre shakedown test this morning.

Thousands of exuberant Finnish fans packed the Killeri super special tonight to see the Stobart squad successfully around the stage ahead of tomorrow’s opening ‘proper’ day which sees crews take on 10 high-speed tests under what could be wet conditions according to weather experts. The opening stage, Vellipohja 1, gets underway at 07:30.

Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Driver Gigi Galli said:
“This Killeri stage is a great way to start Rally Finland and the crowds here are amazing. I know there are some Italians here as it is vacation time in Italy so it’s good to see them here cheering me on. This event is very fun but there are a lot of fast guys so I am going to take it steady and see how we go after tomorrow’s action.”

Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Driver Henning Solberg said:
“That was a great way to start the rally and as normal the many crazy Finnish fans were cheering us on tonight. I like these fast stages and being fastest on shakedown today has given me good confidence after the long break since Turkey. I am planning to enjoy this event and aim for a good result as well.”

Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Driver Matthew Wilson said:
“It was good fun to do the super special tonight especially with the thousands of fans cheering us on. The first corner is very tricky though and it’s easy to get caught out in the braking so we took things steady. The real action starts tomorrow, we’ve had a good recce and I’m really looking forward to it.”

Leaderboard after SS1
1. S Loeb/D Elena 1m20.5s
2. D Sordo/M Marti +0.3s
3. C Atkinson/S Prevot +0.4s
4. M Hirvonen/J Lehtinen +0.4s
5. P Solberg/P Mills +0.6s
6. J-M Latvala/M Anttila +0.8s
7. U Aava/K Sikk +0.9s
8. A Mikkelsen/O Floene +1.0s
9. G Galli/G Bernacchini +1.2s
10. H Solberg/C Menkerud +1.6s

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