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Seven-strong Stobart reach half-century.

The Stobart VK M-Sport team will reach the first important milestone in its four-year history when the Wales Rally GB gets underway next week as they prepare for their 50th event with a formidable seven-strong driver line-up.

Since their low-profile debut in 2005, the Ford 'B-team' has made significant gains over the years to the point that they head into the final round of the 2008 season looking to get on the podium.

Leading their charge will be nominated drivers Francois Duval and Matthew Wilson. Duval comes to the event with a new co-driver in the form of the experienced Denis Giraudet, the Frenchman replacing Patrick Pivato who was injured in a crash in Japan.

However, it has been two years since Duval last competed on the rally, while the combination of a new co-driver means he is placing additional emphasis on the pre-event recce.

“I'm looking forward to returning to Rally GB because I have had some good results here in the past,” he said. “Denis has come in as my replacement co-driver for this rally and I am very thankful to him for this gesture because I think it will help my confidence a lot in my first rally since Japan.

“I am going to head to the first stage and take it step by step from there. This rally can be very difficult especially if the conditions turn bad and this can have a big influence on the results. I think with the new stages on Friday and the fact I have not done this event since 2006, that it will be very important to get a good set of notes from recce.”

Wilson, meanwhile, is confident of a strong performance on home soil as he looks to bring a vastly improved season to a satisfying close. The young Brit prevailed in a tussle with Chris Atkinson to finish sixth last season, a result he is keen to repeat.

“The plan for GB is to go as quick as possible from the start and try and match the result from last year, if not better it. It is interesting to have some new stages on the Friday and this will spice things up a bit for the opening day.”

In addition to Duval and Wilson, Stobart will also be represented by a varied combination of drivers for this event. Henning Solberg will return to the team following his foray with the Argentine Munchi's team, while Barry Clark, Steve Perez and Dave Weston will also fly the Stobart flag in Wales.

Perhaps most significant though is the appearance of MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi, who will make his third WRC start driving a Focus WRC RS. He will race a Children in Need backed car.


Related Pictures

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Francois Duval (B) Patrick Pivato (B) Ford Focus RS WRC 07
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Gavin - Unregistered

December 04, 2008 10:28 AM

The critics keep forgetting just how young Wilson still is. If I recall, Loeb was about five or six years older even by the time he made it into his Super 1600 Saxo, for example. All drivers have different routes to the top of their sports, and even if he doesn't become a World Champion or even a winner, he is still more than capable of a worthwhile career which would contribute considerably to the general strength and depth of the WRC (as he has already been doing with his existing points finishes). For example, in the long run, what did the likes of Manfred Stohl, Chris Atkinson and Kris Meeke for that matter, have, at the same age, that Wilson doesn't?

Andrew - Unregistered

December 01, 2008 1:43 PM

Ok, if we don't like the Seb comparison - BRC graduates Richard Burns and Colin McRae took 6 starts in Group A/WRC cars to get a podium (2 for McRae if you discount the starts in private Ford Sierras). At some point you have to show pace - 4th place in Japan 2007 (Loeb, Gronholm, Petter Solberg, Atkinson, Latvala all non-scoring) ahead of Luis Perez Companc(!) is poor return after 50 WRC starts. Give the car to any of Kris Meeke, Andreas Mikkelsen, or Guy Wilks and it won't be 50 rallies without a podium.



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