Steady start in snow for stobart
All three Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Rally Team crews were comfortably placed in the top ten overall standings after completing the opening loop of Rally Norway.

The second round of the FIA World Rally Championship presented competitors with perfect winter rally conditions on the first full day of stage action, and the competition has been extremely close as a result.

Stobart’s Henning Solberg/Cato Menkerud led the way for the Cumbrian team throughout the morning, and were determined to put on a show for their fanatical Norwegian supporters on their home round. The pair recorded a fifth-fastest time on the 20.87km SS4 Finnskogen test and a sixth-fastest time on the 13.45 km Kongsvinger test before coming into remote service halfway through the day. This placed them sixth overall and locked in battle with Henning’s brother Petter, just one place ahead.

Urmo Aava/Kuldar Sikk eased themselves into the rally with a series of consistent top ten times throughout the morning. They started cautiously in a bid to avoid mistakes like the one that cost them the rally lead at the previous round in Ireland, but increased their pace throughout the morning and finished the opening loop seventh overall and just behind team-mates Henning Solberg/Cato Menkerud.

Matthew Wilson/Scott Martin recovered from a stall on the first stage of the day to post an impressive sixth-fastest time on the 8km SS3 Kirkenaer, outpacing former world champion Petter Solberg in the process. They entered remote service ninth overall and with their sights firmly set on the reigning JWRC champion Sebastien Ogier just ahead.

With all three Stobart Ford Focus RS WRCs firmly in contention to score points they will look to press on during the second loop of the day, which will see a repeat of the four morning stages. With settled conditions providing a thick layer of hard-packed snow, ice and snow banks on the roads it will be up to the drivers to put the special, studded Pirelli Sottozero snow tyre to best use as they try to find the optimum setup for the remaining stages on the first day.

Stobart VK M-Sport Ford driver Henning Solberg said:
“It’s not been the morning I had hoped for but that is all part of the challenge. I’m pushing hard and still aiming for the podium. We will maybe try to change some things with setup and see if we can improve our times this afternoon.”

Stobart VK M-Sport Ford driver Matthew Wilson said:
“We stalled on a hairpin in the first stage of the day which is a shame because otherwise that would have been a very good time. The stages have been great though and we’re starting to find our rhythm, so we will try to keep upping the pace as the day progresses.”

Stobart VK M-Sport Ford driver Urmo Aava said:
“It’s been very tricky in some places this morning so we have been quite cautious. However, we are trying to find a good rhythm while avoiding mistakes and I am sure we can go quicker in the afternoon.”

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