Solid Showing for Stobart on Day 2
The first loop of action on day two of Rally Ireland saw the Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Rally Team home in on a healthy points haul – with two of its crews firmly inside the top six in the overall standings.

With rain falling unabated overnight competitors were once again faced with extremely tough conditions on the opening stage, the 27.76km Sloughan Glen test. All three Stobart Ford Focus RS WRCs entered the fray shod with the Pirelli Sottozero winter tyre, which had proved its effectiveness so well in the previous day’s atrocious weather.

Henning Solberg/Cato Menkerud were dealt an early blow as they picked up a puncture on the front right wheel of their Ford Focus RS WRC around 6km from the end of SS9. Despite losing a significant amount of time over the remainder of the stage, they went on to maintain their grip on fourth position overall with good times on SS10 Ballinamallard and SS11 Tempo.

Matthew Wilson/Scott Martin continued their steady approach in the face of the treacherous road conditions, and it paid off as they moved up into sixth in the overall classification following the first stage of the day.

Urmo Aava/Kuldar Sikk re-joined the fray under SuperRally rules after their unfortunate off yesterday (Friday). The Estonian duo posted top ten stage times on SS9 and SS10 as they clawed their way back up the standings. Then, despite being badly hindered by their windscreen misting up, they recorded the fifth-quickest time on SS11 Tempo and moved into twelfth spot overall.

Stobart VK M-Sport Ford driver Henning Solberg said:
“I picked up a puncture on the first stage and lost a lot of time. I was being very cautious so I don’t know what caused it, I didn’t feel like we hit anything. The final stage was very dangerous because of the amount of water on it, I didn’t enjoy it. I will just drive at my own pace for the rest of the day and take it stage by stage. It is more important to me to finish than to fight other drivers.”

Stobart VK M-Sport Ford driver Matthew Wilson said:
“The first stage was very difficult, particularly towards the end of it where there was lots of standing water, so we couldn’t really commit too much. The third stage was definitely the worst, there was rivers running down the road. We’ve been keeping it safe and steady but we’ll try to pick the pace up in the afternoon if the conditions are a bit better.”

Stobart VK M-Sport Ford driver Urmo Aava said:
“The car was steaming up over the first stage and I couldn’t see anything. That made it so difficult and we lost a lot of time. It was a very difficult morning. The third stage was shorter so the windscreen did not steam up so much and I could go much faster. We will try to fix the problem then try to enjoy the rest of the day.”

Leaderboard after SS11
1. S Loeb/D Elena (F) Citroën C4 1h44m53.7s
2. D Sordo/M Marti (E) Citroën C4 +1m12.2s
3. M Hirvonen/J Lehtinen (FIN) Ford Focus RS +2m29.2s
4. H Solberg/C Menkerud (N) Ford Focus RS +5m15s
5. C Atkinson/S Prevot (AUS) Citroën C4 +6m02s
6. M Wilson/S Martin (GB) Ford Focus RS +7m46.5s
7. S Ogier/J Ingrassia (F) Citroën C4 +8m13.4s
8. G MacHale/B Murphy (IRL) Ford Focus RS +9m04.6s
9. E Boland/D Morrissey (IRL) Subaru Impreza +9m36.5s
10. K Al Qassimi/M Orr (UAE) Ford Focus RS +9m52.3s

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