Subaru World Rally Team Summary Subaru's Petter Solberg and Mikko Hirvonen re-started today's third and final day of Rally Finland after their retirements earlier in the event. Although ineligible to score Championship points, they used the ...
Subaru World Rally Team
Subaru's Petter Solberg and Mikko Hirvonen re-started today's third and final day of Rally Finland after their retirements earlier in the event. Although ineligible to score Championship points, they used the opportunity to demonstrate the winning pace of the Impreza WRC2004, increase their experience of the specialist gravel stages and carry out some useful test work. Petter was fastest through three of the day's four stages while Mikko was quickest on one.
SS19: 0836 Jukojarvi 1 (22.31km)
Putting yesterday's gearbox troubles behind him, overnight leader Marcus Gronholm set out to secure his first WRC victory since Argentina 2003 and his first with the Peugeot 307WRC. Negotiating the fast Jukojarvi stage, which included a famous spectator-pleasing hairpin turn 6km from the start, the Finn was 3.8 seconds faster than closest rival Markko Martin and ended the stage with a 38.9 second advantage overall. However, fastest was young Subaru driver Mikko Hirvonen. The Finn charged through the 22.31km section to the delight of the crowds of supporters that had turned out to cheer him on. His team-mate Petter Solberg was third fastest. Despite suffering with a gear selection problem, Skoda driver Toni Gardemeister was ninth fastest to move up from eighth to seventh overall. After the finish, crews moved to the start of SS20.
Fastest Stage Time: Hirvonen (Subaru) 10:46.0
SS20: 0907 Kruununpera 1 (25.32km)
The fastest stage of the 2003 FIA World Rally Championship (Martin recorded an average speed of 133.7kph in 2003), Kruununpera includes typical Finnish long crests and sixth gear straights. This year, the stage had been extended and included a new section at the end. Reigning World Champion Petter Solberg was quickest and notched up his sixth stage win of the event, while Gronholm was second fastest. Carlos Sainz was third and Hirvonen fourth. Seeking to make up time following a heavy landing on Leg two which flattened his Focus' exhaust and stifled its engine power, Francois Duval was eighth fastest. That was enough to move the Belgian into the same position overall and into the points. After the finish, crews returned to Jyvaskyla for a 20-minute service.
Fastest Stage Time: Solberg (Subaru) 11:53.6
SS21: 1228 Jukojarvi 2 (22.31km)
With the end of the rally almost in sight, Gronholm eased off the pace on the second pass through Jukojarva to finish fifth and maintain the overall lead by 39.1 seconds. His closest rival, Ford's Markko Martin, was third fastest, while Carlos Sainz was sixth to retain overall third. Loeb reported he was suffering with a painful neck following a heavy landing on Leg one, but the Frenchman brought his Xsara home with the seventh fastest time and remained fourth overall. Once again Solberg, who was using the re-start as an opportunity to experiment with different set-ups on his Subaru Impreza, was fastest, while team-mate Hirvonen was fourth. After the finish, crews moved to the start of the final test, SS22.
Fastest Stage Time: Solberg (Subaru) 10:36.1
SS22: 1259 Kruununpera 2 (25.32km)
Gronholm cruised through the final test, the repeated Kruununpera, to take his fourth WRC victory at Rally Finland, the first for the Peugeot 307 WRC and the 16th of his WRC career. Rally Finland 2003 winner Markko Martin was fourth fastest through the final 25.32km to take second, while Carlos Sainz was seventh fastest to take the final podium position. Petter Solberg once again demonstrated the pace of the Subaru Impreza WRC2004 and with an average speed of 127.61kph, was fastest through the stage. His team-mate Mikko Hirvonen also remained on the pace and was fifth fastest.
Fastest Stage Time: Solberg (Subaru) 11:54.3
There's not really much more to say about this event. I've enjoyed my driving today. Physically, I feel so much better, it's just too bad it didn't happen a little earlier.
It's a shame about the mistake on Friday although I'm really happy with the pace I've set since then. It's always fun to drive these stages, they're an excellent challenge and being in my home country makes them even more special. They're stupidly fast from time to time, but it's difficult to describe the excellent feeling you get when you're driving. Next up is Germany and that's going to be my first proper tarmac rally with this car. But, no worries, the preparations have gone well and I can't wait to get there.
Team Principal, David Lapworth
I think what we've proved over the last two days is that our optimism before the rally was well-founded. Petter paid a heavy price for his small mistake on Friday and I can't help but feel that, if he hadn't been ill, it would have been a completely different story. Similarly Mikko has shown the pace that we were hoping for, although his weekend was ruined too by one small mistake. It's always disappointing for the team not to achieve the result we were looking for, but at least we go to the following events full of confidence and even more motivated to win.
ADAC Rallye Deutschland: 20-22 August 2004
Round ten of the sixteen-round 2004 FIA World Rally Championship starts in two weeks time, when teams travel to Germany for the WRC Rally Deutschland. An all-asphalt event, the Rally includes a variety of stages including narrow, twisty vineyard roads in the Mosel Valley, rough, bumpy tarmac roads in the Baumholder military training area and smooth, fast roads in Saarland. Starting from the city of Trier on Friday 20 August, the event includes 24 stages. The winning car is expected to cross the finish ramp at 1530hrs on Sunday 22 August.