Australia : Subaru World Rally Team - Leg 1
Subaru World Rally Team driver Petter Solberg holds second place overall at the end of a dramatic first day of competition on Rally Australia.
Solberg and his team-mate Chris Atkinson were the pace-setters for much of the
day and between them won five of the Leg's seven forest stages in their Impreza WRC2006s. Australian-born Atkinson won the first three tests of the day and had a 13sec lead of the rally before a small mistake left his car undamaged but stuck in deep sand by the roadside. Atkinson retired from the Leg but will restart on Saturday.
Solberg was fastest on two stages and led the rally overall before losing a place in controversial circumstances when he was caught in the dust of cars ahead.
“Today was mostly a good day. Early on we made some changes and won two stages then there were more improvements again after the service. We lost a lot of time in the dust on both of the last two forest stages; turning the wrong way on the first and having to stop again and again on the second. It was just so bad we could not see what we were doing. Overall though I am quite happy with the position, we made some good tyre choices, the Pirellis worked very well and we're looking forward to still more improvements tomorrow.”
“It was obviously a disappointing end to the day.
We were trying hard for the whole team here and were leading but unfortunately made just a small mistake and that's it - we're out for the day. We went a little wide on one corner and didn't recover for the next. We slid to a stop on a bank partly off the road. We tried to reverse, but we couldn't and that was that. The car's pretty much fine, there was a small fire, but we got it out with little damage and we hadn't hit anything. We'll probably restart tomorrow but we've still blown our chances of a podium or a win.”
Richard Taylor, Managing Director
“We have been encouraged by the performance of both our cars in these hot and dry conditions. Once again this demonstrates the enormous effort from all the team to ensure Subaru can consistently challenge for top stage times. Both cars have run faultlessly and in the early stages we had two cars in the top three positions with Petter and Chris securing five stage wins. Chris was unfortunate to go off while leading and Petter lost a great deal of time in the dust, however I am sure Chris will be back tomorrow showing his pace, and am confident that Petter can close the gap to the rally leader.”
Leg two is based largely on the forest roads south east of Perth and features nine more stages and 120 competitive kilometres. The morning stages take place on the logging roads of the Banister pine plantation and include the famous ‘Bunnings' jumps and water splash. After a service in Perth, crews return to the Beraking and Flynns stages in the afternoon before two final circuits around the city Superspecial in the evening.
Press release Subaru World Rally Team