Flodin gives Russian-flavoured first victory to the new Impreza
Swedish crew of Patrik Flodin and Goran Bergsten dominated the P-WRC category on Wales Rally GB 2008 to bring their new weapon to victory in this historical event. After the drama on Sunday morning, when the Swedes all but lost their lead, they battled back to finish more than one and a half minutes clear off their closest rivals.
The victory became fourth for the young driver in the GroupN category, but his first in the more prestigious P-WRC series. It was also the first World Rally Championship event to be won behind the wheel of a Subaru Impreza WRX STi of the latest hatchback generation. The car, built by the Russian team "Uspenskiy Rally Tecnica", has tasted only triumphs in Flodin's hands, as victory in Wales followed the crew's triumph on the last round of the Russian Rally Championship back in October. Now, after the second successive masterful performance, the collaboration between the Russian outfit and the Swedish crew can only grow further. "We really want to do the Production Championship again next year together with the Russian team and this car".
Patrik started the rally cautiously after finding the icy road conditions really treacherous during the reconnaissance. However, his carefully measured pace was more than enough to keep second position during the first day and to push the leading driver. He continued the attack on Saturday morning, rapidly closing on to the leader. It soon paid off as he inherited the lead after the crew ahead had hit problems. Patrik resisted the pressure from other hard-charging drivers and kept his twenty seconds advantage throughout the day. Impressively he increased it up to forty seconds after just the Sunday's first stage. But all the crew's efforts were taken away when they made a mistake on the next speed test, and with two stages to go only one second separated them from their main rival. In addition, during the afternoon service they found some problems with the centre differential and a front damper. However, the URT team's mechanics sorted out everything, and eventually Patrik overcame all the difficulties to finish the penultimate speed test over ten seconds ahead of his rival. The last SS saw even more drama, as the chaser retired with a broken engine, while Patrik and Goran took another stage victory and the rally's laurels as well. "I'm enormously happy! We had only one real problem when a pipe on the left rear brake got damaged on a road section, but we managed to fix it in time and finish the rally. It's a perfect team, and this is a great car! "
Both Patrik and Goran were happy to give the new Impreza its first victory on a WRC event. But despite the success it was a very difficult rally for both the crew and their team, whom Patrik called "the real professionals". But neither mud nor ice, which made the roads particularly slippery, could prevent the Swedish stars from outpacing other crews, including title contenders. "I really enjoyed the fight. And it was one of the most important victories for me, so I want to thank the URT team and the TEIN suspension specialists for providing me with such an opportunity".