Stobart strengthen squad for Germany
- 11th August 2008, 9:19am
Round 10 of the FIA World Rally Championship takes crews to Germany for the seventh running of the ADAC Rallye Deutschland. The second tarmac rally this season sees François Duval return to the Stobart VK M-Sport Ford rally team, with co-driver Patrick Pivato, after his solid fourth place debut finish with the team in Monte Carlo in January.
Joining Duval as the other nominated point scoring crew in Germany are regular Stobart members Gigi Galli/Giovanni Bernacchini. Both Matthew Wilson/Scott Martin and Henning Solberg/Cato Menkerud will also be entered under the Stobart VK M-Sport Ford banner.
Duval comes into the rally as a tarmac specialist and is one of only a small handful of WRC competitors to have contested the event every year since its inception to the WRC in 2002. His results speak for themselves with three second place finishes in 2004, 2005 and more recently 2007; where he finished just 20 seconds behind the leader.
The second most experienced of the Stobart crews to embark on Germany is Galli who has had mixed fortunes during his trips to Trier with his best result coming in 2005 when he finished fifth overall. The Italian was last here in 2005 but his form already shown on tarmac this year in Monte Carlo suggests he could put in a strong performance for the team next week.
Twenty-one-year-old Wilson has shown steady improvements during his last two trips to Rally Germany as he will be looking to go one better than last season and finish in the points. The young Brit has been preparing for this tarmac attack with some driver coaching from world renowned expert Rob Wilson.
Despite some 65 WRC starts, this will be just the second attempt at Rally Germany for Solberg after making his Deutschland debut last year. The Norwegian has also been honing his tarmac skills back in Norway spending plenty of time on the track over the summer break in his purpose built six-speed sequential geared go-kart. To become more familiar with the asphalt surface, after months without practice, Galli, Wilson and Duval will all conduct a small pre-event test session this weekend in the Trier region. This will help familiarise them with Pirelli’s P-Zero tarmac tyre which will be available in both soft and hard compounds for the German event.
The history of Rally Germany is quite similar to Catalunya in that it was originally formed through the amalgamation of three smaller events – the Deutschland, Hunsbruck and Saarland rallies. Stages are a delight for competitors and spectators alike, with days one and three run through the beautiful regions along the banks of the Mosel River while day two takes crews into the Baumholder military complex with its massive, car-destroying, hinkelsteins.
In total crews will pass over 18 special stages before a final 4.37 kilometre super special through the historical town of Trier. The longest stage of the event, Arena Panzerplatte – 30.38 kilometres, will be run twice on Satur day. The 352.89 kilometres of competitive stage distance will be kicked off with a ceremonial start at the Porta Nigra - the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps and a World Heritage Site.
Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Driver Gigi Galli said:
“OK my experience in Germany is not as great as some of the other rallies but I know this car is very good on tarmac so I am looking forward to seeing what it can do. Last time we were on tarmac was way back in January in Monte Carlo so I think it will take some stages to get used to the feeling again. Last time we were here was in 2005 and we ended up finishing fifth so another result like this will be fantastic this year. The super special on Sunday will be amazing, it is a beautiful city which is filled with fans who go crazy when the rally is in town!”
Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Driver François Duval said:
“In the past I have had some very good results here in Germany and this year I am in the championship winning car so hopefully this can continue. The stages here are quite similar to those in Belgium which I think will also help a lot. The deal we have struck this year is to do all the remaining tarmac rounds which I am excited about because I know I have the best speed on asphalt. Hopefully my addition will help the Stobart team’s chance for more points in the Manufacturers’ Championship and also mine in the drivers’.”
Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Driver Henning Solberg said:
“I think this will be a challenging event for me as I have only done the event once before and that was last year. But we still need to collect points and the aim is for a good result. The best way for me to achieve this is to concentrate on improving my performance from last year and get closer to the top guys’ times on tarmac. Then we will see how that leaves us in the overall classification. I like the more open, normal road stages but find it difficult on the military ranges. I need to feel the car flowing and on those stages it is very stop and start and you can’t really get into a good rhythm.”
Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Driver Matthew Wilson said:
“We have just come from a difficult rally in Finland and now we are going to another one in Germany. The event is like three different rallies in three days over different types of stages and each with their own unique challenges. We will have a test before the rally which will be a huge benefit especially after not having driven on tarmac since January and for sure that will help to give us a good feeling for the start of the event. As always the weather here can also make a big difference so the safety crews will have a huge part to play.”
Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Principal Malcolm Wilson said:
“The Stobart team have a very good chance of scoring well in Germany as I feel we are fiel ding our strongest team to date. François’ record here speaks for itself and I think he will do a great job for the team. Gigi has been here a few times now so he too will have the experience on what is one of the most challenging tarmac events due to the different characteristics of the stages and the unpredictable weather conditions.”
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