Stobart VK M-Sport Ford drivers Henning Solberg and Matthew Wilson showed consistent and reliable pace in the opening stages of Rally Argentina, the fifth round of the FIA World Rally Championship, to hold solid point-scoring positions in the top eight overall after the first four-stage loop of the rally.

Solberg had a steady start to day one in his Ford Focus RS, slipping down to sixth place from his overnight position of fifth, while he got a feel for the car on the tricky opener SS2 La Cumbre Ė Agua De Oro.

But the Norwegian quickly found his rhythm and by SS5, the 9.61km San Marcos Ė Charbonnier test, he was right on the pace of the leaders. The highlight of his morning was finishing second on this narrow, winding stage just 2.3 seconds behind stage winner Sebastien Loeb.

Meanwhile Wilson maintained the same dependable form that he has shown so far this season climbing up two places from his overnight position of ninth after a trouble-free start to leg two which saw him contend well with the soft, sandy road conditions.

The predicted overnight rain did not materialise meaning drivers were left to deal with very dusty roads, particularly on the opening two stages of the day, but windier conditions on SS4 and SS5 helped the dust clear and improved visibility for the crews.

This afternoon competitors will take a second pass at the morning stages which are expected to be much rougher with ever-emerging rocks sure to pose a problem. Midday service in Carlos Paz was held in the rain and damp conditions are also expected for the afternoon.

Stobart VK M-Sport Ford driver Matthew Wilson said:
ďItís definitely going to be very rough this afternoon and there will be more rocks pulled out. Already we have seen some massive stones on the road just as we came out of a hairpin bend on stage three. We are on a comfortable pace and the plan is to try and stay out of trouble this afternoon when, I think, the conditions will be more difficult. We were slow through the first section of stage five, itís very narrow and technical and we just didnít get it exactly right.Ē

Stobart VK M-Sport Ford driver Henning Solberg said:
ďWe have had a good start to the rally this morning and the car is feeling quite good; you can see this as we got the second fastest time on that last stage. But there is still some work to do, the front of the car is touching quite a bit so we need to make a few changes to the dampers. Also the diff is a bit too aggressive for the conditions. I want to drive fast but we also need to have a clean rally and not make any mistakes.Ē

Leaderboard after SS5
1. M Hirvonen/J Lehtinen(FIN) Ford Focus RS 54m17.2s
2. S Loeb/D Elena (FRA) CitroŽn C4 +0.6s
3. D Sordo/M Marti (ESP) CitroŽn C4 +5.0s
4. P Solberg/P Mills (NOR) CitroŽn Xsara +7.0s
5. J-M Latvala/M Antilla (FIN) Ford Focus RS +9.1s
6. H Solberg/C Menkerud (NOR) Ford Focus RS +24.3s
7. M Wilson/S Martin (GB) Ford Focus RS +1m00.9s
8. F Villagra/J Perez Companc (ARG) Ford Focus RS +1m31.3s
9. C Rautenbach/D Barritt (ZIM) CitroŽn C4 +2m01.3s
10. S Ogier/J Ingrassia (FRA) CitroŽn C4 +2m06.8s

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