2003 World Rally champion Petter Solberg replaced Marcus Gronholm on the top of the leaderboard at the end of Saturday's Swedish Rally competition. Gronholm held the lead by a mere two-tenths of a second on the first day of the fierce battle ...
2003 World Rally champion Petter Solberg replaced Marcus Gronholm on the top of the leaderboard at the end of Saturday's Swedish Rally competition. Gronholm held the lead by a mere two-tenths of a second on the first day of the fierce battle between the top three overall, each aiming for victory tomorrow.
Solberg edged his Subaru in front of the Finn's Peugeot by 12.6-seconds with three stage wins. Gronholm was fastest in two of the seven specials; Sebastien Lobe scored the other two victories.
Defending WRC champion Loeb kept the third slot, over thirty seconds adrift of Norwegian. After a non-error free day for the talented Frenchman, he hopes to put on a charge for the Citroen team on the final leg.
"The pacenotes said 'Sky (over a bump). Right. Brake and left'," explained Loeb of his second off-route excursion. "I was looking for the 'sky' but when realised too late. I managed to hang on to the car and recover the situation but the road was not wide enough!"
Unless one of the top three make an error or have a mechanical failure, the podium steps should be their's to share.
"It's been a very exciting day, with a fantastic fight on every stage," commented Gronholm. "Petter went quicker than me on the final loop of stages, but I'm really not worried: everything is still possible tomorrow. The car and the team have been fantastic: I've not had any problems all day. I've enjoyed myself a lot and I hope all the spectators have as well. I think tomorrow will be just as exciting and I'm really looking forward to another big battle. Everything is too close to predict!"
Peugeot's Markko Martin should secure the fourth finish with over a one minute lead on his former team, Ford. Gardemeister holds fifth ahead of nominated for points in this event only Solberg's brother, Henning Solberg.
Gianluigi Galli's super run on Friday ended today -- dropping the Italian from fourth to eighth overall due to a drive-shaft failure. His teammate Harri Rovanpera holds down seventh.
Peugeot's young Daniel Carlsson follows the two Mitsubishi's in ninth and Aussie Chris Atkinson has his Subaru in tenth -- the difference from fifth to tenth is covered by 41 seconds.
Solberg understands that the battle for the victory will be fierce, "I'm going to do all I can tomorrow to win. Of course, there's still a long way to go and Marcus and Seb are tough competitors, but I have to admit it would be a dream result for me to win here in Sweden."