Argentina: Subaru World Rally Team - Finish
In light of the eight cancelled tests on Friday, the final leg of the rally was revamped to include an extra stage. The crews tackled the 23.18km Mina Clavero – Giulio Cesare stage twice instead of once.
It meant the number
of stages was now five and the total competitive distance of the leg increased to 82.40km. The decision was made to bring the competitive distance of the rally up to the minimum required by the rules.
Thunderstorms overnight flooded the service park at Villa Carlos Paz, while out on the stages the roads were wet and muddy in places. Temperatures ranged from four degrees Celsius to a high of 11 Celsius.
Chris Atkinson finished an eventful Rally Argentina in the points for the Subaru World Rally Team. The Australian, who had Stéphane Prévot as his co-driver for the first time, guided his Impreza WRC2007 to seventh position overall.
In their 100th rally with the team, Petter Solberg and Phil Mills had been on course for a podium until they were forced to retire on Leg two. They were halted by an engine problem caused when the radiator was damaged in an impact.
We were encouraged by the speed that Petter showed on Saturday and his performance confirmed what we saw in Mexico – that when the car is going well it is fast enough to challenge the pace of the leaders.
The challenge now is to make sure we can run at that sort of pace in all conditions. Today has been a frustrating one for Chris. He had a couple of good times early on, but the car didn't feel right under him and he dropped a couple of places later on. We have learned some lessons here, and we'll use that information to help us improve the car before the next event in Sardinia.
It's good to have completed the event in the points, and I'm pleased about how things have worked out with my new co-driver, but it's hard not to get frustrated with the speed when I know I can go quicker. Even though we managed to set some reasonable times on the first couple of stages today I know I could have been faster if I had more confidence in the handling of the car. We made some positive steps at the recent test but there's still work to do before we unlock the potential of this car. We'll keep on working and hope for a better story in Sardinia.
Matthieu Bonardel, BFGoodrich rally manager
This has been an interesting and unpredictable rally, not just because of the weather but also as a result of the changes on the first day. Overall though we are quite happy with the way our tyres have worked. Both Chris and Petter were able to take advantage of our soft compound tyre in the damp and muddy conditions, and both appreciated the amount of grip these, and our other gravel tyres, produced. Petter showed an especially good pace on Leg two and was the only driver to be able to challenge the leaders.
It's back to Europe for round seven, Rally d'Italia-Sardinia. The soft gravel roads of Sardinia are a recent addition to the championship and the inaugural 2004 event was dominated by Petter Solberg and Subaru.
Subaru World Rally Team