Stobart VK M-Sport Ford drivers Matthew Wilson and Henning Solberg are well-placed after the opening stages of day one at the Rally de Portugal, lying sixth and ninth respectively after four stages. The tricky tests in the hills to the north of the Service Park at the Algarve Stadium provided the drivers with challenging conditions as the course switched between fast, wide roads and narrow, winding tracks preventing them from getting into a good rhythm.

Following his victory on the opening Super Special stage last night, leader Solberg lost time on SS2 Ourique 1 as he began to suffer some minor brake problems. He finished 34 seconds off the pace of stage winner Jari-Matti Latvala, dropping down to tenth in the overall rankings. But the Norwegian did well to stay on the pace of the leaders and after three stages of day one is up to ninth place just over a minute behind rally leader Dani Sordo.

Matthew Wilson/Scott Martin climbed steadily up the leaderboard from their overnight position of 11th to finish the section in a confident sixth place. The young Briton started the day well finishing fifth on the opening stage ahead of former World Champion Petter Solberg and followed that performance up with sixth place on SS3. Some pacenote issues on the 22.04km SS4 Malhao 1 lost the crew a few seconds but they remain well placed for a strong finish. This afternoon will see the crews cover another 67kms as they take a second pass at the morningís stages.

Stobart VK M-Sport Ford driver Henning Solberg said:
ďIt hasnít been the perfect start to the day as we have had some small problems with the brakes but Iím still very happy with the position that we are in. The car feels good and we are going to make some small adjustments to the dampers in service. It was a nice feeling to start the day in the lead and I hope when we come back to Service tonight we will have put in some good times on the second pass.Ē

Stobart VK M-Sport Ford driver Matthew Wilson said:
ďIt has been a good morning and a decent start to the rally. We lost a few seconds on the last stage with a pacenote issue but Iím happy to be ahead of the other younger drivers at the end of the morning. This afternoon we are looking to close the gap on Petter Solberg just ahead of us. Conditions for the second pass should be good as the stages have a hard base.Ē

Leaderboard after SS4
1. D Sordo/M Marti (ESP) CitroŽn C4 43m14.1s
2. M Gronholm /T Rautiainan (FIN) Subaru Impreza +3.2s
3. M Hirvonen/J Lehtinen (FIN) Ford Focus RS +6.4s
4. S Loeb/D Elena (FRA) CitroŽn C4 +22.7s
5. P Solberg/P Mills (NOR) CitroŽn Xsara +38.4s
6. M Wilson/S Martin (GB) Ford Focus RS +48.9s
7. E Novikov/D Moscatt (RUS) CitroŽn C4 +50.1
8. S Ogier/J Ingrassia (FRA) CitroŽn C4 +56.1s
9. H Solberg/C Menkerud (NOR) Ford Focus RS 1m03.6s
10. Mads Ostberg/O Unnerud (NOR) Subaru Impreza +1m57.4s

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