Duval grand for Stobart as Deutschland grasps Galli
After day 1 of ADAC Rallye Deutschland, round 10 of the FIA World Rally Championship, François Duval/Patrick Pivato lie in fourth place. Unfortunately Gigi Galli/Giovanni Bernacchini retired from the event after an accident on stage 5 this afternoon which saw the Italian driver airlifted to hospital with a fracture to his left femur. To increase the chances of a speedy recovery Galli will be operated on tonight in the Barmherzige Hospital in Trier. Co-driver Bernacchini was also taken to hospital for precautionary checks and was given the all-clear this afternoon.

Galli’s accident occurred on a flat right-hand corner 11.3 kilometres into stage 5 when a cut on the inside of the corner bounced his car across the road careering him into trees at high speed. Luckily the safety rollcage of his Stobart Ford Focus RS WRC07 did its job and prevented further injury in what could have been an horrific accident. Organisers and event medical staff did a fantastic job working efficiently to help the Italian out of his car after he became trapped in it for several minutes after the accident.

Officials cancelled the stage to allow medical crews easier access to the Italian’s car. Unfortunately for crews running down the order the rally action became very slim when organisers were forced to cancel stage 6 after just three cars had completed due to a very large number of spectators which posed a safety issue. All remaining cars were given notional times by rally officials.

Duval’s solid run of top-five stage times included a second fastest on the first stage of the afternoon and was only marred by a slight delay in the electronic gear shift on stages 2 and 3. The opening two stages gave the Belgian a chance to familiarise himself with the soft compound Pirelli tyre which he was using for the first time this morning.

Despite not scoring points for the team this weekend, Henning Solberg/Cato Menkerud have put in what has been their best day on tarmac to-date coming home in eighth position; just 2.2 seconds off seventh place. After a cautious start, team-mates Matthew Wilson/Scott Martin picked up the pace in the afternoon loop of three stages to finish the day in 13th position.

Solberg’s steady approach gradually improved as he battled throughout the day for the final point scoring position. The Norwegian’s only problem occurred near the start of stage 3 when had a small impact on the inside of a corner prompting him to think he had a puncture and subsequently slow down as a precaution.

After struggling to find his confidence on the opening section this morning Wilson came back firing in the afternoon after regaining the feeling with his Focus RS. The 21-year-old had a good day adapting to the soft compound Pirelli PZero tyre which he chose to use over all six stages today.

Last night saw thousands of fanatic spectators cheer their favourite WRC stars over the ceremonial start ramp at the ancient Roman site of the Porta Nigra. It was also a fine day on the shakedown road with Duval setting the fastest time for the Stobart squad – the team’s second in as many events.

Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Driver François Duval said:
“I’m still getting used to the car and these new soft Pirellis but we made some changes to the setup of the car for this afternoon’s stages and this seemed to work better so hopefully we can continue this into tomorrow. The car was under-steering a little and I was not getting things quite right on the slower hairpins. The gear changes on stages 2 and 3 were a bit slow and the roads are quite dirty for me as well. Tomorrow I will have a big push and see if we can make up some time on the guys in front.”

Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Driver Henning Solberg said:
“We’ve made a good start to the rally and I’m in a much better position than I thought I would be so I am very happy. We had a bit of a problem with the revs dropping low on some of the hairpin corners on stage 5 and I stopped twice which lost us some time but OK I’m happy to get through it; we are now just a couple of seconds off seventh place. We are taking things slowly and trying to build up the speed over the rally so hopefully this plan will work.”

Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Driver Matthew Wilson said:
“We have been improving steadily over the day and after having a good run through the first three stages this morning we pushed a bit harder on stage 4 and it felt really good. I had more confidence in the car and hopefully the conditions will stay dry for tomorrow and we can continue to improve more. Our goal here is to gradually close the gap on the top drivers but we are also having a battle with the two guys in front so it should be a fun day tomorrow.”

Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Principal Malcolm Wilson said:
“It’s been a disappointing end to the first day with Gigi being taken to hospital after his high speed accident but I think the strength of the Ford Focus and the car’s roll cage prevented further injury. The emergency services were quickly on the scene, got him removed from the car and off to hospital. Francois has been doing a good job today after what has been a long WRC layoff and his performance has been improving throughout the day. Matthew and Henning have had no dramas and have had a good solid day of competition.”

Day 1 Leaderboard
1. S Loeb/D Elena 1h00m22.5s
2. M Hirvonen/J Lehtinen +19.9sec
3. D Sordo/M Marti +25.6sec
4. F Duval/P Pivato +38.7sec
5. J M Latvala/M Attila +55.7sec
6. P Solberg/P Mills +1m03.9sec
7. C Atkinson/S Prevot +1m34.0sec
8. H Solberg/C Menkerud +1m36.2sec
9. U Aava/K Sikk +1m39.4sec
10. T Gardemeister/T Tuominen +2m12.4sec

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