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The Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Rally Team completed the ninth round of the FIA World Rally Championship with Matthew Wilson bringing his Stobart Focus home just shy of the top ten in the overall standings on the difficult and technical event.
Wilson, in his first season at the pinnacle of international rallying, had very much as his objective for this event to complete all of the rally’s 19 stages and 352km of competitive distance without incident. This was crucial not just for Wilson’s learning season but also as the team face a race against the clock to transport and transform their cars for the next event, Neste Oil Rally Finland, which takes place in just five days time.
OMV ADAC Rallye Deutschland was contested over three days of very different sealed surface and stage types but on the first day it was the weather which presented the biggest challenge. The Saarland region offered heavy downpours interspersed with blue skies and a drying breeze making tyre choice exceptionally difficult on the mud-strewn vineyard roads tackled. The conditions claimed a number of competitors, including Jari- Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila in the second Stobart Focus.
The first day also provided another challenge for Wilson, with a turbo pipe separating in the stage to mean a slow run for Wilson placing him far down the field for the second day. The weather on Saturday proved to be far more favourable, although the threat of rain was ever-present. Wilson climbed back through the order as he drove the military range stages of that day, fighting off a tank-stopping hinkelstein as he moved from his 30th overall placing at the end of Friday to 13th by the end of Saturday. 
Any hopes of moving into the top ten on the final day contested over four stages on predominantly dry tarmac stages were extinguished by fuel pump issues which prevented Wilson from running at full pace.  
The sister Stobart Focus of Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila had a strong final leg of the event to contrast with a problematic first two days of the event. The rally’s opening stage had seen Latvala understeer on a tricky corner to lodge his Focus under an Armco barrier and out of the running for that day. The second day saw a turbo pipe come loose and a deer jump out to tackle, unsuccessfully, the frontal aspect of the Focus. Latvala also suffered a mystery engine cut-out but still ended the day having moved up to 44th in the overall standings.
The final day was far better for Latvala with a fifth and sixth fastest times in the final two stages saw the Finn move to 34th in the overall standings.
Barry Clark in the Stobart VK Rally Team, contesting the FIA Junior World Rally Championship (J-WRC) and Fiesta SportingTrophy International (FSTi), showed stunning pace in his Fiesta ST but suffered from a catalogue of problems which blunted his results. A puncture requiring change on the first stage, a bent rear axle and broken brake disc, a broken driveshaft requiring a gearbox change and a broken engine mount all could not stop the Scot’s pace and Clark and co-driver Scott Martin came home as third Fiesta ST. Their effort also placed them as the lead Rookie in the J-WRC, not only in the event but in that championship too.
The next round of the FIA World Rally Championship takes place in just five days time with Neste Oil Rally Finland where Matthew Wilson and Michael Orr will be joined in the Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Rally Team by Kosti Katajamäki and Timo Alanne. Barry Clark and Scott Martin will also be in action for the Stobart VK Rally Team.
Stobart VK M-sport Ford Rally Team driver Matthew Wilson says:
"It’s definitely good we’ve completed all the stages, most at competitive pace as we’ve learnt a lot for next year and it’s a unique event. When it’s dry it’s enjoyable but when it’s wet it’s so unpredictable. I was glad to get through the first day as it was so difficult with the weather conditions, it was very, very slippery. On the second day it gelled better and I had a good feeling for the stages as we had consistency, we’re going alright in the car. We did nothing silly today as we just wanted a good clean run. We had fun in the Super Special as there were lots of British flags so we were fully sideways the whole way round. It wasn’t fast but it was certainly spectacular. On Sunday the engine was been really bad, it’s been lethargic out of the junctions and we’ve really struggled with initial grunt. By the end of the day we were down to running on road mode with no anti-lag and no boost."
Stobart VK M-sport Ford Rally Team driver Jari-Matti Latvala says:
"This was not so good a rally for us. I made a stupid mistake on the first day and then we suffered problems on the second day. Sunday was very good though and on the last two stages we were cautious but still set the fifth and eight fastest stage times, which feels much better. We came here to have a good result but couldn’t get that because of the first two days but today shows that the speed is there and we have learned from the event. I now know what it is like to drive a WRC car in slippery conditions which I hadn’t experienced when I was with the team in Catalunya and Corsica."
Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Rally Team manager Malcolm Wilson says:
"From Matthew’s point of view I’m really pleased as he’s done exactly what I asked him to do, he’s done a very good job in very difficult conditions, and the important thing is he’s actually done the rally, he hasn’t made any mistakes and that is just all part of the plan, to gain knowledge, to check pace notes in these tricky conditions, it’s just invaluable for the future. I’m a bit disappointed with Jari, there’s fantastic potential there, but he finds it difficult to reign it in though but in fairness it’s because he’s just so competitive."
Stobart VK Rally Team driver Barry Clark says:
"I don’t know how we got the puncture on the first stage, I didn’t hit anything. I wanted to carry on, but it just broke up and we had to stop. We had a very big deficit to make back and we drove well to get time back but then the rear beam bent and we had to drive slower. On Saturday the driveshaft came apart and we had to change the gearbox which dropped us further back. We had a broken engine mount on the final day but we nursed the car home and finished as top Rookie which is a fantastic result."
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