Stobart VK M-Sport Ford drivers Matthew Wilson and Luis Perez Companc made their final preparations for this week’s Telstra Rally Australia in Perth this evening. In a break with World Rally Championship conformity, the pre-event shakedown was held a day early and at the Gloucester Park trotting track – a stage which has little in common with the switchback, gravel-strewn Western Australian roads where the mainstay of the action will take place from Friday until Sunday.
Both drivers completed four runs of the two-kilometre stage, and enjoyed an early opportunity to sample the night-time atmosphere in the stadium which will be used competitively on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings. The two cars ran without any problems and are ready to turn a wheel in anger for the first time in 24 hours’ time. The only mechanical work carried out on the cars was a planned clutch change which allows the drivers to bed in the two permitted transmission parts ahead of the start. Conditions for the shakedown were clear and dry.
Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team driver Matthew Wilson said:
“It’s mega to be back in the 2006 car! It’s an amazing car to drive. There’s so much grip, you just don’t seem to be able to make it slide. We were wearing the outside edges of the tyres – that’s how much we’ve been able to lean on them. Incredible. It was good to see a few people out watching the stage, it’s a great arena to watch rally cars in. I still feel a little bit groggy from my cold, but not nearly as bad as I did before I left to get down here. The stage itself was quite good, there was a bit of a mixture of corners in there. After shakedown tonight, I can’t wait for the start. Our plan is to play ourselves in gently on Friday morning, but at the same time we want to make the most of our good position on the road.”
Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team driver Luis Perez Companc said:
“The shakedown went well for us – no trouble at all. That’s the way it is with this car. All I have to do is sit behind the wheel and move my hands! The stage was good, there were a couple of corners which were quite tricky, but everything is okay. I want the rally to start now, I’m really looking forward to the Friday and Saturday stages.”
Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Principal Malcolm Wilson said:
“There has been nothing out of the ordinary for the team at shakedown. It was good to see a crowd at the stage, that’s what running this evening is all about – it’s raising the awareness of the rally. This is a difficult event and a lot of that stems from the surface of the roads. Both Matthew and Luis start in good positions; a little further back on the road. It’ll be an interesting first day.”
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