Mixed fortunes for Stobart drivers in Cyprus
Britain’s Matthew Wilson led the way for the Stobart VK M-Sport Ford rally team after the opening stages of the Cyprus Rally lying in eighth place overall after a solid start to the rally but it was a different story for his team mate Henning Solberg who was forced to retire from day one following a crash on his way to the first stage.

The third round of the FIA World Rally Championship saw competitors entering uncharted waters as they tackled the opening stages of the mixed-surface rally on asphalt using gravel tyres. The Stobart team were well prepared for day one with Solberg and Wilson both taking six runs in shakedown on Thursday. But Solberg and co-driver Cato Menkerud did not get to put that experience to use as they crashed out on the road section from the Service Park to the first stage colliding with a non-competing vehicle.

There were no injuries to the driver of the other vehicle or to Solberg and Menkerud. The Norwegian attempted to fix his car at the side of the road but it has sustained damage to its cooling system and he was forced to retire from day one. The car is back in the service area where it will be inspected by the team and Solberg hopes to rejoin the rally for day two as a SuperRally entrant.

Matthew Wilson/Scott Martin knew that the opening stages of the rally would be challenging as they tried to achieve a good set up on asphalt. They had a steady start with an eighth-place finish on the testing 30km SS1 Pano Panagia.

After changing the rear tyres at the Pirelli tyre zone between SS1 and SS2 Wilson dropped down the rankings on the 7.3km SS2 Mylikouri. But he bounced back on stage three taking eighth place on the 29km test.

Stobart VK M-Sport Ford driver Henning Solberg said:
“It is really, really disappointing as I had a good feeling coming into the rally. I was driving steadily to the start and a vehicle that had pulled over to the side of the road suddenly changed direction and steered into the path of my car. I tried to repair it but there was too much damage to the cooling system. I hope to get back tomorrow but my hopes of a good result are gone. Now I just have to hope to pick up manufacturer points.”

Stobart VK M-Sport Ford driver Matthew Wilson said:
“It has been a very difficult morning. It is really hard to know how to drive these stages. I’ve just been trying to get it neat and tidy but the roads are very slippery. It is difficult to know how hard to push. We will try a few changes to the car in service now to try and find some more time this afternoon; I just have to keep it as neat as possible now.”

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