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The world’s leading private rally team Stobart VK M-Sport Ford is looking forward to tackling another full campaign in the FIA World Rally Championship in 2009.
Kicking off its season at Rally Ireland over January 30-February 1, the Cumbria-based squad will field three cars in the globe’s premier rally series, with the team’s Ford Focus WRCs prepared at M-Sport in Cumbria.
Drivers Matthew Wilson and Henning Solberg will once again return to the team to contest all 12 rounds of the FIA World Rally Championship calendar.  Estonian pilot Urmo Aava and co-driver Kuldar Sikk have been added to the roster, with the duo scheduled to compete in eight rounds of the championship.  The nominated points scorers for the squad will be selected on a round-by-round basis.
The team will continue to receive backing from major sponsor Stobart Group, the UK’s leading multimodal logistics solutions provider.  The Cumbrian company’s unstinting support for its rally program was recently rewarded at the prestigious Motorsport Industry Association Awards when Stobart Motorsport claimed Rally Business of the Year.  It received the award in recognition of successfully maximising its investment in the FIA World Rally Championship.  Despite having a budget which is a fraction of the manufacturer-backed teams, it has successfully established itself as an outstanding performer both on and off the stages and has become a huge fan favourite across the world.
In 2008 the Stobart squad finished fourth in the Manufacturer Championship, and with four of its star drivers inside the top 10 in the Drivers’ Championship standings.   The team finished the season on a high at Wales Rally GB when it was joined by global motorcycling superstar Valentino Rossi to celebrate its 50th outing in the World Championship.
The team’s iconic livery was also on display at the Race of Champions when two of its Stobart Ford Focus RS world rally cars were driven by the best-of-the-best at Wembley Stadium in England.
Stobart Group CEO Andrew Tinkler said:
“We are delighted to be involved in the World Rally Championship once again and are very excited about the team’s prospects in 2009.  Stobart Group remains committed to its motorsport programme due to the fantastic return it receives in terms of global media exposure and business-to-business opportunities.  We hope to see the Stobart drivers challenging for honours throughout the championship’s 12 rounds and continuing to fly the flag for the team at the premier level of rallying.”
Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Principal Malcolm Wilson said:
“It is shaping up to be a very exciting season for the team.  The driver line-up of Matthew, Henning and now Urmo Aava has the potential to deliver very good results, and the Ford Focus WRC will once again be an extremely competitive package.  The main aim for the season will be to build on last year’s results and regularly score podium finishes.  With a number of new events on the calendar - particularly in the first half of the season - and some significant rule changes, the Stobart team is looking forward to the challenge the FIA World Rally Championship will offer in 2009.”
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