Argentina : OMV Peugeot Norway - Finish
The Rally Argentina was further proof that Manfred Stohl belongs among the top performers in rallying.
The 33-year-old OMV driver only missed the podium by an inch at his 100th WRC start and finished in excellent fourth place. He
currently shares fourth place in the World Championship with Petter Solberg (No/Subaru).
Henning Solberg had lots of bad luck. The Norwegian OMV driver fell back from fifth to seventh place on the last super stage since the clutch of the Peugeot WRC 307 stopped working right in the middle of the stadium-stage. The OMV Peugeot Norway World Rally Team and Team Manager Jackie Bozian are nevertheless happy about having scored ten points in the manufacturer WRC.
SS best time as birthday present
The Rally Argentina 2006, Manfred Stohl's 100th WRC run, was definitely one of the best performances the 33-year-old OMV driver ever gave. He proved that he can hold his own with the top anytime and will be able to challenge even serial winner Sebastien Loeb
or the latters fiercest opponent Marcus Grönholm in the future.
A tyre problem hampered him in Argentina, which should not cause troubles once again at the next rallies. His most impressive feat was the special stage best time on day three on the legendary Argentina-SS Mina Clavero, which leads over 20,08 kilometres. Stohl: “It was my present to Ilka, who is celebrating her birthday today.
Unfortunately we were not able to quite catch up with Galli. But making good almost 45 seconds on two special stages gives me a lot of self-confidence. We are very satisfied and feel invigorated for the next two gravel-rallies in Sardinia and Greece. I believe that we might be able to reach the podium then.” It was the second SS best time at this rally for the OMV duo Stohl/Minor and the sixth in their careers.
The Austrian of the OMV Peugeot Norway World Rally Team mainly lost time during the morning of day two when the wrong choice of tyres caused two spins which cost almost two minutes. Following this he went into attack mode and worked his way up from seventh to fourth place. Thus he equalled the best Argentina-result of his father Rudi Stohl who had reached this place in 1988 and 1990. Stohl: “The Argentina Rally felt rather jinxed for me for a long time. The spell should be broken now. I'm looking forward to next year.”
One kilometre too long for fifth place
There was no happy ending for OMV Teammate Henning Solberg, though. The Norwegian gave an excellent performance at his debut in Argentina and only had to let Manfred Stohl pass on the first special stage of day three. But fifth place would still have been a sensational result for Solberg/Menkerud. It was not to be, since the clutch gave up during the last stage, the super stage in the stadium of Cordoba, just one kilometre before the finishing line and the Peugeot 307 WRC stalled. Thus the OMV driver fell back to seventh place due to a five minute penalty. Solberg: “That is part of the game. It can happen anytime. Of course, it is a bitter pill when you're so close to the finish. There is still a positive side to it for now we are seventh and know that we were actually much faster. It would have been much worse had we reached this place because we simply weren't able to attack anymore. Therefore I really mustn't be dissatisfied.
Ten points for the World Championship
Bozian-Racing chief and OMV Peugeot Norway World Rally Team Manager Jackie Bozian also was anything but dissatisfied with scoring ten points in the manufacturers' World Championship. Bozian: “Manfred and Henning did an excellent job. They can keep up the speed, thereby putting pressure on their opponents. It is a real joy to have them in our team and be part of their success.” Currently the OMV Peugeot Norway World Rally Team still lies in fourth place in the manufacturers' World Championship with 31 points and was able to expand the lead over their pursuers.
Special show gig was punished
A special show gig prior to the presentation ceremony left a somewhat bitter aftertaste. The organisers had asked the top-placed drivers to perform a “doughnut” (rotating the rear of the car around the front wheels continuously) for the audience prior to driving over the finish ramp. Manfred Stohl, Sebastien Loeb
, Daniel Sordo and Gigi Galli willingly obliged. 40.000 spectators were enthused. Only the FIA proved to be a spoil sport. They imposed a penalty of 10.000 Euro on each driver for hazardous action. Stohl: “That is absolutely ridiculous. During the super stage, going 120, you fly by the audience so close you could shave them with your side mirror. And then they come up with such a thing.” The OMV driver wasn't willing to say more since the FIA threatens with a ban in case of repetition.
Press release OMV Peugeot Norway