Members of the Stobart VK M-Sport Ford rally team have been keeping in peak condition over the summer break ahead of what is set to be a fiery second half to the 2008 FIA World Rally Championship.
The next two WRC events in Finland and Germany are set to be warm ones - with possible highs of around 30 degrees centigrade. With this in mind all three Stobart crews have been stepping their fitness up a level in preparation.
Henning Solberg has been busy with his personal trainer over the past two months and is excited to have pushed his maximum average heart rate up to 199bpm, which is the equivalent to that of a 21-year-old’s according to the British Heart Foundation.
Matthew Wilson/Scott Martin have been extremely busy boys in the fitness field - after completing a road cycle across the length of Great Britain to raise over £30,000 for charities, one of which being the WRC-affiliated Richard Burns Foundation.  The bike ride was a massive 1500 kilometres and should have the guys in top condition for their next challenge in Finland.
Gigi Galli has also got in on the act in light of his shortfalls in Turkey, where he suffered from dehydration and exhaustion as a result of the tremendous heat during the rally.  The Italian, along with building a new home in Italy, has been out running three times a week and keeping up the fluids to avoid a Turkish relapse.
The crews have also been keeping their driving abilities in-tune by competing on various events/drive-days over the summer break.  Wilson drove his Stobart Ford Focus RS WRC07 on a small drive-day in the north east of England last month, where he took pop sensation Boyzone and their lead vocalist Ronan Keating for a spin in the car.  The 21-year-old will also be present with the car at next week’s Goodwood Festival of Speed to showcase his talent to the hundreds of thousands of fans who visit the show each year.
Galli and Solberg have been keeping their skills sharp too, both competing in a rallycross exhibition called Bjerkeracet in Oslo last month.  It was a real change for Galli, who jumped behind the wheel of a 600-plus brake-horsepower Ford Fiesta rallycross car for the first time.  The event took place on a specially-designed muddy gravel track with technical sections and massive fast, wide drifting corners.
Despite this being his first time piloting the ultra-powerful Fiesta, Galli finished an impressive sixth ahead of some local young talent.  It was unfortunately not enough to beat rival and fellow team-mate on the WRC circuit Henning Solberg, who won the rallycross class by a substantial margin.  The pair were also joined by several Scandinavian-based WRC competitors. including Ford driver Andreas Mikkelsen and championship regulars Mads Østberg and Patrick Sandell.
The next event for the Stobart VK M-Sport Ford rally team is the ninth round the FIA World Rally Championship; Neste Oil Rally Finland 31 July – 3 August.
Stobart VK M-Sport Ford driver Gigi Galli said:
“I am looking forward to the second half of this season, it is starting to get annoying now being at home so much and not doing any rallies! I have been doing some running about three times per week while I have been on this break to try and increase my fitness levels. Henning invited me to Oslo a few months ago and the experience was incredible, the engine in those Fiestas is amazing, absolutely amazing. I spoke with Marcus [Grönholm] after I drove the car because I know he will go crazy fast in one of those cars. It was nice to go to Norway as the people are so friendly and rally is a big big thing there.”
Stobart VK M-Sport Ford driver Henning Solberg said:
“I have been doing lots of training over the WRC summer break an I am excited that my maximum average heart rate is 199 which my trainer says is very good. Generally I always try to keep my fitness at a good level but there are still some rallies in the next few months which are very demanding on the body. Even the colder rallies can be hard on the body and places like Japan and New Zealand definitely won’t be warm one. It was great to have Gigi over in Oslo to drive the rallycross car – I think he was very impressed with the speed of the car!”
Stobart VK M-Sport Ford driver Matthew Wilson said:
“The whole experience of the bike ride was awesome and there was not a moment where we felt down even if the weather was bad.  To finish was a great achievement, and it was hard to believe that not one of us really wanted to cross the line at John o’Groats because it was as if we all wanted to keep going. From a fitness point of view this ride has been a great thing for both Scott and I. We cycle quite a bit and go to the gym when we are at home but nothing to this degree, so I know I am going to be feeling fresh as a daisy once Finland comes around.”
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