Super Saturday session sees Stobart duo power into points
The super pairing of Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila and Matthew Wilson/Scott Martin have both moved into solid point scoring positions for the Stobart VK M-Sport Ford team at the close of day 2 of Rallye de France – Tour de Corse. Latvala turned up the heat pushing comfortably into fourth position while Wilson lies ninth overall and seventh of the manufacturer crews.

The further two Stobart VK M-Sport Ford rally team crews have had a day of mixed fortunes with Barry Clark/Paul Nagle having a splendid day moving into 12th position. Unfortunately a puncture for the second day running saw Henning Solberg/Cato Menkerud finish 17th but the Norwegians did put in some fantastic stage times including the seventh fastest on the final test today.

Latvala’s performance has been faultless today and his speed this afternoon has shown an amazing improvement in his Tarmac ability as he won the battle for fourth with the two works Subaru drivers. The most promising part of his performance today came on stage 11 when the 23-year-old set the second fastest stage time despite carrying extra weight; running with two spare Pirelli PZero tyres.

The performance from Wilson has not only put him into some firm manufacturer points but it also saw him advance five places from his overnight position. The relatively flawless day allowed the Brit back into the manufacturer points as he heads into tomorrow’s final day just 7.3 seconds off a drivers point.

Day 2 turned out to be a day of attrition with many top WRC crews falling by the wayside with a raft of issues, one of those being Solberg. He picked up a font left puncture just 400 metres into stage 11 and was forced to stop and change it losing over three minutes. It was an unlucky occurrence after the Norwegian and his mechanical team had made some very promising changes in Service and he came out firing this afternoon setting some impressive stage times.

Clark began the morning again with the intention to take in as much experience of the event and knowledge of how his Stobart Ford Focus RS World Rally car acts on the sealed surface. His performance included an 12th fastest time on stage 12 as he moved up four positions from last night’s standings. The only problem for Clark was a small impact with a wall on stage 10 when his car oversteered a bit coming out of a slow corner slightly damaging the rear bumper.

The longest leg of the rally again treated drivers and co-drivers with some stunning scenery and conditions apart from some damp patches present on stage 9 after some small overnight drizzle in the area. It was the 25.17 kilometre Calcatoggio – Plage du Liamone stage however which proved the most costly for crews with many hidden rocks causing several punctures.

Tomorrow’s final day will see two passes over the longest stage of the rally, Agosta – Pont de Calzola, as crews tackle the final 116.26 kilometres of competitive action.

Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Driver Jari-Matti Latvala said:
“Everything seemed to go perfect today but we never really did anything differently it all just seemed to click into place. We even carried two spares for safety on the afternoon loop when most other people had one so the extra weight made no difference to our speed at all. After Service I couldn’t believe how my times were so good. I have just been trying to drive more precisely like I learnt in Spain last week and it is working well; now we are in a much stronger fourth position. The stages tomorrow are generally wider but there is a narrow section in the middle of one where we need to be careful as there are some very sharp edges.”

Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Driver Matthew Wilson said:
“Today has been mega. This time yesterday I was coming into final service a bit unhappy but today I’m coming in with a big smile on my face as we have moved up from 14th to ninth in one day. I just put yesterday’s problems behind me and concentrated on driving and it all just seemed to come together. I have been happy with my split times today apart from my first one on every stage and we just have to try and get on the pace from the very start now. The stages tomorrow are a different challenge as they are a bit wider and less technical than today.”

Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Driver Henning Solberg said:
“Today has been mixed fortunes for us but in the end things have turned out good and the mechanics have done an amazing job to make the car suit my driving style. We were seventh fastest on that last stage and I am very very happy with this. I don’t know what I hit on stage 11 but all of a sudden I could feel the tyre vibrating and I knew I had a puncture so we had to stop and change it but luckily the car didn’t fall off the jack like yesterday! Tomorrow I want to go out and see if we can learn some more and hopefully set some more fast times like the last one today.”

Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Driver Barry Clark said:
“It has been a fantastic day and as it went on my confidence grew and the time on the last stage really showed this. The plan was to get around all the stages and we have done this, fairly unscathed, today and now I am in the top-12 which is my goal for the event. On the first stage after Service we had a moment where the car oversteered over a corner and dropped the back wheel off the road and we hit a small wall. Fortunately there was little damage so we were able to finish this afternoon’s stages without losing any time.”

Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Principal Malcolm Wilson said:
“It has been a really strong day for both nominated drivers and it’s great to see how Matthew bounced back from yesterday’s problems and is now back up into the points. It’s also been a sterling performance from Jari-Matti, he really stamped his authority today and is just one place off a podium. Both cars ran faultlessly but we still have a tough day tomorrow with the longest stage of the rally so the action is not over yet.”

Leaderboard after Day 2
1. S Loeb/D Elena 2h31m27.9s
2. M Hirvonen/J Lehtinen +52.4s
3. F Duval/P Pivato +56.7s
4. J-M Latvala/M Anttila +1m50.6s
5. P Solberg/P Mills +2m13.0s
6. C Atkinson/S Prevot +4m06.2s
7. U Aava/K Sikk +5m49.9s
8. B Tirabassi/F Gordon +7m04.8s
9. M Wilson/S Martin +7m12.1s
10. M Ostberg/O-K Unnerud +7m12.7s

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