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Stobart VK M-Sport Ford drivers Matthew Wilson, Henning Solberg and Krzysztof Holowczyc put on a show for the Polish fans as they kicked off Rally Poland with a scintillating Super Special Stage in Mikolajki in front of a sell-out crowd.
After being flagged off from the Ceremonial Start by Mayor of Mikolajki, Piotr Jakubowski, the 48 starting crews headed to a specially constructed 2.5km circuit just outside Service Park where they were greeted by a capacity crowd of around 10,000 exuberant fans.
Racing against his brother Petter, Solberg was edged out by his younger sibling but still took a solid sixth place.  Wilson was pitted against fellow young-gun Evgeny Novikov and got the better of the Russian finishing the course 0.8 seconds in front, taking eighth place overall.
But one of the loudest cheers of the night was reserved for Holowczyc as the local hero thrilled the packed grandstands finishing just outside the top ten.
Shakedown this morning allowed the drivers to fine tune their suspension for tomorrow’s 113kms of stages, adjusting their settings and ride height as the road became more rutted.
Day one is made up of a compact loop of three stages close to Mikolajki.  The cars are expected to reach high speeds on the soft, sandy roads and the organisers have added rows of straw bales to the stages to prevent the drivers from cutting corners.  The biggest challenge tomorrow is SS3 Paprotki, the longest stage of the rally at 33.17kms.
Stobart VK M-Sport Ford driver Matthew Wilson said:
“It’s great to see so many people here tonight and from what I hear the stages are going to be packed as well.  The stage tonight was really nice with good grip, it’s a fun way to get settled into the rally but the real action starts tomorrow and from what we’ve seen on the recce, there’s going to be a lot of high speed driving.  It’s always good to come to a new event but this will be a tricky rally with the surface changes and it may be hard to get into a good rhythm.”
Stobart VK M-Sport Ford driver Henning Solberg said:
“We had good fun tonight but I will be taking things serious tomorrow.  The people here love their rallying and it was great to put on a good show for them tonight.  The recce went well for us but I know this rally will be hard and the secret here is to stay out of trouble and be precise on the fast stages; any small mistake can end in trouble.  We need a good finish here to maintain our strong championship position.”
Stobart VK M-Sport Ford team driver Krzysztof Holowczyc said:
“I’m very proud to be here tonight starting the rally in front of the packed grandstands and I’m going to try very hard for the Polish spectators.  It was fantastic to start the event with this stage to show the fans what kind of action they will be in for over the next three days.  My knowledge of this event is very good but the competition here will be tough and I need to use my experience well to push hard for a solid result.”
Leaderboard after SSS1
1. P Solberg/P Mills (NOR)                       Citroën Xsara           1m48.3s
2. S Loeb/D Elena (FRA)                         Citroën C4               +0.3s
3=. M Hirvonen/J Lehtinen(FIN)                Ford Focus RS          +1.3s
3=. A Mikkelsen/O Floene (NOR)              Skoda Fabia             +1.3s
5. D Sordo/M Marti (ESP)                        Citroën C4               +1.4s
6=. H Solberg/C Menkerud (NOR)           Ford Focus RS           +1.6s
6=. S Ogier/J Ingrassia (FRA)                  Citroën C4               +1.6s
8. M Wilson/S Martin (GB)                        Ford Focus RS           +2.0s
9. J-M Latvala/M Anttila (FIN)                  Ford Focus RS          +2.4s
10. E Novikov/D Moscatt (RUS)                Citroen C4               +2.8s
12. K Holowczyc/L Kurzeja (POL)           Ford Focus RS           +4.3s
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