Duval poised for fifth with Stobart in New Zealand
The Stobart VK M-Sport Ford rally team look poised for another fine result as François Duval/Patrick Pivato sit comfortably in fifth with one day remaining of Repco Rally New Zealand – round 11 of the FIA World Rally Championship.

Team-mates Matthew Wilson/Scott Martin have come back firing after re-entering the event this morning under SupeRally regulations to set a raft of top-five fastest stage times. Currently the pair occupy 23rd on the leaderboard.

Duval set out cautiously this morning with a comfortable gap between himself and sixth placed Urmo Aava. Struggling a little with the feeling in his car the Belgian made some small changes to his Stobart Ford Focus RS WRC07 at midday service and set out strong this afternoon with two top-six fastest stage times.

The only concern for Duval was the loss of feeling to his front brakes which he put down to the overuse of left-foot braking over the last 10 kilometres of the lengthy Franklin test this morning. With just 85.04 kilometres of competitive distance left tomorrow the 27-year-old is set for another fine result with the Stobart squad.

Wilson set out this morning on a pressure free run and capitalised on his useful road position to set some quick stage times and amazing splits on what has been one of his best driving efforts to date. The highlight for the 21-year-old came on stage 8 (Franklin) when he finished fifth fastest just 10.7 seconds slower than the fastest competitor over 31.58 kilometres.

The only small issue for the young Brit today was a recurring steering problem which caused minimal disruption to his driving but will be assessed by his team of Stobart mechanics during flexi service this evening.

It was another day of tactics as dry conditions left roads heavy with loose gravel making it extremely difficult for front running competitors who were left to ‘sweep’ the roads and create the racing line. Fortunately for competitors the hard-compound Pirelli Scorpion tyre again held strong with no reports of punctures from the WRC class.

Fifty-four crews set out from Rally HQ in Hamilton’s Mystery Creek Events Centre this morning to tackle 130 kilometres of competitive stage action all taking place on the west coast of Waikato. In total six individual stages were covered including the event’s second pass over the 3.14 kilometre Mystery Creek super special.

Today also played host to the longest stage of the rally when crews sped over 32.36 kilometres of the Te Akau North test. Tomorrow will see a short day with a repeat loop of two stages with the rally coming to a close with a final pass over the Mystery Creek super special.

Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Driver François Duval said:
“I have been learning the car a lot more today and things have gone OK without any problems. The stages were a lot faster which I prefer and I had a much better feeling especially on the two long stages this afternoon. I used too much left-foot braking in the last 10 kilometres of the long stage this morning and lost the front brakes but apart from this the car has been going good and we haven’t made any mistakes. I am in a good position and I want to finish the rally tomorrow because I can take a lot of experience, with the car, from this event.”

Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Driver Matthew Wilson said:
“Today has been really good for us and I am really happy with the times we were setting. On all stages we were less than one second a kilometre off the leader and for some only 0.2-0.3 seconds which is very encouraging. The splits were also really fast in sections and it has helped my confidence a lot especially after retiring yesterday. I know I still need more experience of these events but it is a good feeling to know we can set these times. Tomorrow we will look to continue and hopefully achieve what we have today.”

Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Principal Malcolm Wilson said:
“Today we have seen another solid performance by François and he is now in a position to score good points in both the Drivers’ and Manufacturers’ championship. Beginning the day where he was meant he needed to get around without any problems and he has done this perfectly. Matthew’s times today have been some of his best to date and he has been setting fastest splits on sections of the longer stages which has really impressed me. Hopefully both he and François will continue this positive form on tomorrow’s final leg.”

Leaderboard after Day 2
1. J-M Latvala/M Anttila 2h57m29.0sec
2. M Hirvonen/J Lehtinen +9.3s
3. S Loeb/D Elena +13.3s
4. D Sordo/M Marti +15.7s
5. F Duval/P Pivato +1m40.9s
6. U Aava/K Sikk +2m49.8s
7. P Solberg/P Mills +2m52.8s
8. P-G Andersson/J Andersson +4m31.0s
9. T Gardemeister/T Tuominen +4m31.0s
10. F Villagra/J Perez Companc +6m56.8s

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