The Stobart M-Sport Ford Rally Team have successfully completed day one of Rally Bulgaria and remain on track for another healthy points haul at the end of the first all-tarmac round of the season.
New team-mate P-G Andersson and co-driver, Jonas Andersson, made good progress during the afternoon’s stages consisting of 59.34km. Andersson’s Ford Focus RS WRC was stiffened during the midday service and the changes helped to improve the Swedish driver’s times throughout the afternoon.
The 31.77km Batak Lake (SS1 and SS3) was the longest of the rally and the 30-year-old driver reported that the road surface was much dirtier in the repeat afternoon loop. Despite this, Andersson still managed to finish the stage eighth-fastest.
Matthew Wilson and co-driver Scott Martin struggled to adapt to the new all-tarmac surface during the opening loop but gradually improved their stage times throughout the afternoon. This was reflected in the results as the young Cumbrian duo moved up a ranking by the end of SS4, finishing the day in a comfortable ninth position overall.
The 23-year old driver reported that problems with the rear suspension set-up on his Ford Focus RS WRC cost him time during the faster road sections. Wilson also noted that he was lifting a wheel on corners and this factor combined with the new asphalt road surface meant he took a more cautious approach to the stages.
Stobart M-Sport Ford driver Matthew Wilson said:
“Everything went OK today but it’s taken me longer than I thought it would to get used to driving on asphalt again. The first 10k of SS3 was fine but I lost some time during the middle of the stage when the road surface was much bumpier. I also felt like the wheels were starting to lift towards the end of the stage which cost me more time. The back of the car feels a bit lively too – we might soften the rear going in to tomorrow’s stages so it doesn’t unsettle the front as much as it did today. If these small problems are fixed, I’ll gain more confidence and hopefully produce some faster stage times.”
Stobart M-Sport Ford driver P-G Andersson said:
“The road surface was much dirtier this afternoon but I felt like everything was going better. During the faster sections, I was being much more cautious but after today I am feeling more confident so this should help me to push harder tomorrow. The car has been going well generally and after everything was made stiffer during the first service, it really helped with the handling. The brakes have been excellent but the ride height will be raised slightly tonight to help tackle tomorrow’s bumpy stages.”