Solberg Does It Again At Wales Rally GB

solberg-does-it-again-at-wales-rally-gb 19 September 2004

Subaru World Rally Team

Weather: Following early morning light showers, conditions cleared and were mostly dry for the remainder of the day. Temperatures started at 12°C in the morning, rising to 17°C by midday. Stages were loose gravel with some mud and damp patches.

Petter Solberg and co-driver Phil Mills take their third consecutive WRC Rally GB win – Win is Solberg’s ninth in the WRC & fourth in the 2004 season – Subaru and Pirelli win eight out of the last ten WRC Rally GBs – Rally GB result marks Subaru’s 43rd WRC victory, its 42nd with the Impreza – Solberg is fourth driver in the event’s history to take three consecutive Rally GB wins – Solberg takes eight stage wins on 2004 Wales Rally GB – Mikko Hirvonen finishes seventh to score more Championship points for himself and Subaru Petter Solberg:”It’s been the hardest finish I can remember, but one of the best. Sebastien is a very determined guy. We had the most incredible battle, this is a good result for the sport and we put on a great show – but it was not an easy task today! On the first part of Margam it was very slippery. I hit rocks and everything, but when it dried I though, right, let’s go and I absolutely nailed it. I tried everything, but it worked out. I’m so pleased for everyone in the team, we have a great team atmosphere and we’re going to carry it through to Sardinia.”

Citreon WRC

Sébastien Loeb, Daniel Elena and the Xsara WRC finished an excellent second in Wales Rally GB and maintained their lead in the Championship, now 28 points ahead of their closest rival. Carlos Sainz and Marc Marti claimed fourth, and this great team performance allows Citroën to increase the gap in the Manufacturers classification to 38 points. Sébastien and Daniel dominated Wales Rally GB, taking the lead from stage 2 to stage 18, a few kilometres before the end of “Margam 2”, the penultimate stage of the event. At this precise moment the split times showed that Seb’ had a lead of 3,3 seconds on that stage, which then turned into a deficit of 9,2 seconds at the end of the 27,55 km test. Sébastien conceded 12 seconds in 12 kilometres whereas he only lost one second out of 120 km yesterday. He tries to understand. “Between kilometre 15 and 20, I made a tiny mistake when I braked a bit late in a right corner in second gear. I had to use the first gear and I went wide by two or three meters. I estimate the loss to be 2 seconds there. Next, I continued to push as hard as I had during the rest of the weekend without feeling anything wrong with the car. I would lie if I said I’m not disappointed with this finale. But I’m happy about two things : I was extremely close to winning the event thanks to my Xsara, and with two second places in a row, I still have all my chances for the title.”

Marlboro Peugeot Total

Peugeot driver Harri Rovanpera has finished sixth on the Rally Great Britain, scoring valuable points for himself and Peugeot. The Finn was held back by problems on the opening day but fought back to a points-scoring place, despite being disadvantaged by his road position in constantly changing conditions. Britain’s round of the World Championship has moved to September this year but intermittent rain was still a constant feature of the event, making tyre choice extremely difficult. Harri was locked in a fierce battle for sixth over the last day of the event, and showed his determination by sealing the position with some quick times on the final leg. Harri said: “This has not been an easy event for me: it was difficult to find a good pace on the opening day, and on the second day we were affected quite badly by the weather. But as the event went on I became more comfortable with the car and we were able to set some quite encouraging times, thanks also to some good tyre choices. My priority on this rally was to finish and score some points for Peugeot, and I am pleased that we achieved that.”

Unfortunately his team mate Marcus Gronholm was not so lucky, despite challenging for the lead over the opening day of the rally. Marcus was poised to make his move on the second day, but was unfortunately distracted by a warning light on his dashboard on SS10. He cut a left-hand corner as normal, but behind a straw bale on the inside of the corner was a metal pole, which broke the front suspension of his Peugeot. Daniel Carlsson was another retirement, sliding off on a corner which he approached slightly too quickly on the opening day. The car slithered into a ditch, but there were not enough spectators to help push Daniel out. However, the young Swede started the subsequent two days under the trial of the new Super Rally system, which allows retired cars to re-join. Making his debut in the 307 WRC, he learnt a lot more about the car and set some encouraging times.

Peugeot Sport team principal Corrado Provera commented: “Another event where we missed out on podium. It seems that fate is really against us at the moment. The pity is that the car clearly has the potential, as the times that Daniel set showed. Let’s hope for better luck in Italy.”

The World Rally Championship resumes in two weeks time, with the Rally d’Italia-Sardinia. The all-new gravel event, from October 1-3, is round 13 of the series. Harri Rovanpera has previously won in Sardinia, and will be looking to repeat his achievement when the World Championship moves to Italy.

Ford Rally

Ford today claimed its 40th consecutive points finish in the FIA World Rally Championship as two Focus RS World Rally Cars finished in the top five of the Wales Rally GB. Markko Märtin and Michael Park were third to claim their seventh podium position of the season and BP-Ford World Rally Team colleagues François Duval and Stéphane Prévot were fifth.

The remarkable scoring run, the longest in the history of the championship, began on the Monte Carlo Rally in January 2002. Ford’s achievement was officially recognised when the team received the Inmarsat Star of the Rally Award. Lewis Booth, president and CEO of Ford of Europe, was on hand to receive the award in Swansea from former world championship co-driver Nicky Grist. The double points haul on this 12th round of the championship consolidated the team’s grip on second place with four rounds remaining. Märtin and Duval celebrated the record by setting the two fastest times on the final special stage in the dockland area of Cardiff, live in front of a huge national television audience.

Skoda Motorsport

Rally GB again confirmed the continuing progress made by Škoda Motorsport’s Fabia WRC development programme but the team was denied a top 10 overall result by bad luck. Toni Gardemeister slid off the road into a river near the end of day two and the time lost while spectators wrestled the car back to the road ended his hopes of equaling the team’s results in Finland and Germany. Treacherous weather conditions made this one of the most tricky events of the season, despite a date switch from November to September, but all three Škoda Motorsport drivers set top 10 stage times throughout the rally. Armin Schwarz rolled out of the rally at the end of day one and a rare technical problem sidelined Jani Paasonen on Saturday. Škoda Motorsport now faces the challenge of three rallies in five weeks. First will be the gravel Rallye d’Italia in Sardinia (October 1-3) before the action turns to asphalt in Corsica (October 15-17) and Catalunya (October 29-31).

Results:
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SOLBERG, Petter

LOEB, Sebastien
MARTIN, Markko
SAINZ , Carlos
DUVAL, François
ROVANPERÄ, Harri
HIRVONEN, Mikko
STOHL, Manfred
VOUILLOZ, Nicolas
WARMBOLD, Antony
Subaru Impreza WRC

Citröen Xsara WRC
Ford Focus WRC
Citröen Xsara WRC
Ford Focus WRC
Peugeot 307 WRC
Subaru Impreza WRC
Peugeot 206 WRC
Peugeot 206 WRC
Ford Focus WRC
3.42.39.5
3.42.45.8
3.45.33.2
3.46.21.6
3.47.20.8
3.49.24.4
3.49.47.8
3.52.59.6
3.57.51.8
3.58.28.8
World Championship 2004

Drivers
1. Sebastien Loeb 92
2. Petter Solberg 64
3. Markko Martin 59
4. Carlos Sainz 55
5. Marcus Gronholm 47
6. François Duval 43
7. Mikko Hirvonen 23
8. Harri Rovanpera 20
9. Janne Tuohino 16
10. Freddy Loix 7
11. Daniel Carlsson 6
12. Gilles Panizzi 6
13. Cedric Robert 4
14. Manfred Stohl 4
Manufacturers
1. CITROEN 150
2. FORD 112
3. SUBARU 91
4. PEUGEOT 76
5. MITSUBISHI 17