After the time loss of the previous two days, the Subaru World Rally Team's focus for the final Leg turned to testing and development work for forthcoming events. Petter Solberg maintained his overnight seventh position throughout most of the day, however an impact with a rock on the racing line on the last stage of the day dropped him back down to eighth overall. Chris Atkinson had a steady drive throughout the day to finish the event in ninth position.
SS17: 0854hrs Vavatsinia - Mandra Kambiou 1 (25.24km)
The final day of competition started with the slippery, challenging
Vavatsinia speed test. Overnight leader Loeb won the stage in dominant
style, nearly eight seconds faster than the chasing Marcus Gronholm.
Subaru's Petter Solberg was third fastest, however reported driveability
problems after damaging two front wheel rims in an impact. There were
further troubles for Matthew Wilson, who drove the final 7km of the stage
without any intercom, unable to hear co-driver Michael Orr's pace notes.
Henning Solberg was also slow through the stage as he struggled with an
ill-handling car and reduced grip on the road.
Fastest Time: Loeb (Citroen) 22:24.1
SS18: 0952hrs Machairas - Agioi Vavatsinias 1 (12.94km)
Ford's Marcus Gronholm tried to regain some of the time lost to leader
Sebastien Loeb through the 13km road from Machairas to Agioi Vavatsinias.
The Finn started the stage determined to carve into the lead, however only
closed the gap to 27secs with five stages remaining. Stobart privateer Juan
Pablo Raies did not start the pass after his co-driver Jorge Perez Companc
blacked out during the previous stage. After having been checked out by
doctors, Raies decided not to continue. Petter Solberg finished over a
minute slower than Gronholm as he tried to preserve his car after its
earlier impact to ensure its return to the Service Park.
Fastest Time: Gronholm (Ford) 10:56.6
SS19: 1035hrs Lageia - Kalavasos 1 (8.99km)
Gronholm continued to whittle down Loeb's advantage with yet another stage
win, however with Loeb second quickest, the gap only closed by 1.5secs.
Henning Solberg had yet more dramas when he was forced to drive the greater
part of the stage with the co-driver door stuck open. As a result co-driver
Cato Menkerud tried to hold the door shut and read pace notes at the same
time. Despite the rough drive, Henning nevertheless recorded the fifth
fastest time. Chris Atkinson was seventh fastest to hold ninth overall, just
half a second quicker than Petter Solberg.
Fastest Time: Gronholm (Ford) 7:21.6
SS20: 1235hrs Down Town Special (3.40km)
After a 30 minute service crews headed into central Limassol for an all-new Superspecial on the seafront promenade. Watched by thousands of spectators, crews wound their way through the narrow streets in the old town. The speed test was however run purely as a showcase due to concerns for spectator safety. Despite the non-competitive running, Dani Sordo misjudged the first corner from the start and ran straight on into a concrete barrier and had to be towed out from the course.
SS21: 1403hrs Vavatsinia Mandra Kambiou 2 (25.24km)
Running first and second on the road, Perez Companc and Wilson drove through the stage competitively, however the delays caused by Sordo's accident in SS20 meant the two crews had become separated from the rest of the field. Faced with a long gap between the second and third crews driving through the stage, organisers cancelled the competitive section and the remaining crews drove through at non-competitive pace. A notional time of 23:19.8 was awarded to all drivers.
SS22: 1514hrs Machairas - Agioi Vavatsinias 2 (12.94km)
The 2006 Cyprus Rally was the steep rocky road that descended sharply
downhill from Machairas. Gronholm's last minute push closed the gap to Loeb
by a further four seconds, but it not enough and Loeb secured the win, the
28th of his career. Petter Solberg lost nearly two minutes to Gronholm when
he hit a rock on the racing line close to the end of the stage, and bent his
front left wheel rim. The delay dropped him from seventh to eighth position
overall. Chris Atkinson posted the seventh quickest stage of the day to
finish the event just out of the points in ninth. Xevi Pons finished the
stage, however stopped two kilometres from the service park with
transmission problems. He dropped one place from sixth to seventh overall.
Fastest Time: Gronholm (Ford) 10:48.8
Subaru World Rally Team managing director, Richard Taylor We have been realistic in our approach to this weekend and knew that, with the car we have at the moment, Cyprus was going to be a very difficult rally. What we have seen over the past three days confirms that. The drivers have done an excellent job throughout the weekend despite the handling and it is now our job to refocus on our test and development in order to try and improve the package over the next four rallies.
For sure we came here to try and get a better result than this, but for the time loss on Friday we would have finished a lot higher. We still have much work to do on the car over the next few events, and we are all pushing so hard to get back and start fighting again.
Until we went off the road last night, we were running in the top five, which is a better indicator of where we are at the moment. Today we have been driving to take no risks and do our job and get the car to the end of the rally, not risking it for Rally Turkey.
News from Pirelli
Mario Isola, Pirelli Competizioni Rally Manager
Today the team used the KP tread pattern. Despite the very rough conditions and hot ambient temperatures, the tyres performed consistently well. We have not come away from this event with the result that we hoped, but will work with Subaru to ensure that we each get the results we deserve in the next few events.
The next event
In two weeks the World Rally Championship will head back to the eastern Mediterranean for Rally Turkey. Turkey, like Rally Cyprus features tough gravel roads, however the speeds are much faster than those of Rally Cyprus with much more variety of stages, some featuring water-splashes. The weather can also be a deciding factor with rain and fog over the gravel tracks of the Anatalian mountains a distinct possibility.