Stobart move up in the mountains
The Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Rally Team saw its three crews take advantage of the glorious winter conditions at Rally Norway to improve their positions after the first loop of stages on the second full day. Saturday’s competition centres around the breath-taking scenery in the mountain region near Lillehammer, with the 40 registered cars still in action facing two identical loops of four stages covering 118.94km, separated by a 30-minute service in the Viking Ship Service Park.

Henning Solberg/Cato Menkerud shook off the minor problems that hindered their progress on Friday to charge through the first four stages and move up from seventh to fifth overall by the time they returned to service mid-way through the day. The duo posted blistering fourth-fastest times on SS10 Mountain and SS12 Ringsaker, and topped that with a third-fastest time on the short 1,15km SS13 Hamar. That helped them to leap-frog Henning’s brother Petter Solberg and close to within 13 seconds of Citroën works pilot Dani Sordo.

Matthew Wilson/Scott Martin enjoyed a trouble-free run through the opening loop and climbed to seventh place overall. The Cumbrian duo reported great conditions on the stages, with the Pirelli SottoZero winter tyre providing superb traction on the hard-packed ice and snow. With former world champion Petter Solberg only one place ahead of them in the overall classification at the halfway point on Saturday, Wilson and Martin will target the Norwegian superstar and try to close in on him.

Despite failing to find the sort of outright pace that made them shine in Ireland, Urmo Aava/Kuldar Sikk still managed to pick up two places and move from tenth to eighth after the first loop. The Estonian pair will hope to find a setup to their liking in mid-day service and up-the-ante throughout the remainder of the day’s stages.

Stobart VK M-Sport Ford driver Henning Solberg said:
“The stages are very good to drive today and I’ve been enjoying being out there and pushing hard. It’s been a good morning but I still think we can go faster. The battle with Petter has been fun and I’m very happy to be ahead at this moment. Moving up two places already this morning is very encouraging.”

Stobart VK M-Sport Ford driver Matthew Wilson said:
“The conditions are amazing out there. The first stage was just perfect for snow rallying. We probably didn’t start the day as fast as we could, but the car felt really good and the grip was great. The only issue I had was the loss of feeling with the brake pedal which meant it was difficult to feel the bite point on the high speed sections.”

Stobart VK M-Sport Ford driver Urmo Aava said:
“The grip on the stages today is fantastic and you just need to keep telling yourself to drive faster. I know that I need to push more, the car is great but I’m trying to be too smooth and I need to use all of the road. We will change dampers in service to try and get a better feeling for this afternoon.”

Leaderboard after SS13
1. S Loeb/D Elena (F) Citroën C4 1h47m12.4s
2. M Hirvonen/J Lehtinen (FIN) Ford Focus RS +10.7s
3. JM Latvala/M Anttila (FIN) Ford Focus RS +49.9s
4. D Sordo/M Marti (E) Citroën C4 +2m26.8s
5. H Solberg/C Menkerud (N) Ford Focus RS +2m39.0s
6. P Solberg/P Mills (N) Citroën Xsara +3m01.1s
7. M Wilson/S Martin (GB) Ford Focus RS +3m58.1s
8. U Aava/K Sikk (EE) Ford Focus RS +4m45.0s
9. M Ostberg/O Unnerud (N) Subaru Impreza +5m59.8s
10. C Rautenbach/D Barritt (ZIM) Citroën C4 +6m42.8s

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