Stobart sit with solid Spanish points
Day one of RallyRACC Catalunya sees both Stobart VK M-Sport Ford crews inside the points after a problem-free day’s driving from the pair. Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila lead the charge in seventh position while Matthew Wilson/Scott Martin lie in 10th and in a points position in the Manufacturers’ standings.

Latvala began his performance in a cautious frame of mind after three consecutive mistakes during the last three WRC rounds. The Finn tried to find a good feeling on the Spanish asphalt but, without a pre-event test, needed some time to adjust back to sealed surface driving.

At midday service he made some changes to his Stobart Ford Focus RS WRC07 which gave the car greater balance, and his confidence a boost, as he set notably faster stage times than he did on the same loop of three stages this morning.

A slight loss of brakes on the initial sections of stage 1 saw Wilson lose some time this morning until the feeling came back towards the middle of the test. Understeer also slightly troubled the young Brit but he was able to make effective changes to the setup of his Focus RS during service and had a much better feeling this afternoon.

It has been a good start for the 21-year-old despite no pre-event testing as he began to increase his speed and improve on his times over the second pass of stages this afternoon. With a list of competitors behind trying to break into the top-ten Wilson will be looking to keep up this pace and maintain his position on the top side of the event leaderboard.

Last night thousands of lively spectators took to the streets of Salou on the Costa Daurada coastline to catch a glimpse of the WRC’s superstars as they drove over the ceremonial start ramp. After a night’s rest crews hit the road early this morning to tackle two repeated loops of three stages to the north of Rally HQ.

In total the day covered 131.76 kilometres of competitive distance with the biggest player of the day being tyre choice. As was the case in Rally Germany teams have been allowed permission to choose between either a hard or soft compound Pirelli PZero tyre with the harder option being the pick of the day as temperatures stayed high and conditions dry despite a threatening shower in Barcelona earlier this morning.

It has been a fairly clean day of rallying with just one start list retirement from the primary WRC competitors falling victim to the Spanish roads. Tomorrow will offer another six challenging stages this time further west of the Rally’s headquarters in Salou.

Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Driver Jari-Matti Latvala said:
“We started off slowly today as my confidence was low after the results from the last rallies but things got better during the day. We made some positive changes at the midday Service and the rear of the car felt much better and more balanced this afternoon. I’m starting to understand the tyres better now so it will good to build on this tomorrow. The stages tomorrow are more enjoyable than today, more twisty and flowing. Today was quite narrow in places with a lot of straights.”

Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Driver Matthew Wilson said:
“I played around with the set-up today and made some good improvements with the damper clicks. We didn’t get an opportunity to test before this rally so it just takes a stage or two to get things right. We are halfway there and will try some more tomorrow to make the balance even better. It’s been a productive day, we are in a points position for the team and I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s stages.”

Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Principal Malcolm Wilson said:
“It has been a positive start to the rally for the Stobart team and it’s great to see both cars in manufacturer points positions at the end of the first day; that’s exactly what we came here to do. They have both gone slightly quicker this afternoon after making some small changes at Service. The plan was to come here, get some points on the board and gather some information for Corsica next week so, with that in mind, I’m happy with how things are going.”

Leaderboard after Day 1
1. S Loeb/D Elena 1h10m11.5s
2. D Sordo/M Marti +15.8sec
3. F Duval/P Pivato +41.3sec
4. M Hirvonen/J Lehtinen +44.1sec
5. P Solberg/P Mills +1m47.5sec
6. U Aava/K Sikk +2m01.2sec
7. J M Latvala/M Attila +2m04.4sec
8. C Atkinson/S Prevot +2m13.4sec
9. A Mikkelsen/O Floene +2m24.9sec
10. M Wilson/S Martin +3m42.1sec

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