SOLBERG HOLDS EIGHTH AS TARMAC CHALLENGE TURNS TOUGH
M-Sport Stobart Ford World Rally Team’s Henning Solberg holds eighth after an action-packed second day at ADAC Rallye Deutschland.
Despite intermittent brake problems and a small steering issue, Solberg battled with former Formula One Champion Kimi Räikkönen and fellow Ford Fiesta RS WRC driver Dennis Kuipers to finish the day just 6.2 seconds behind Räikkönen. The Norwegian driver – who is partnered by Austria’s Ilka Minor – is eager to snatch seventh position from Räikkönen during the final day of action tomorrow.
Today’s repeat loop of four stages totalling 150.14 km included a mix of open tests in the Saarland countryside and abrasive roads over the infamously difficult Baumholder military region. Large concrete blocks known as hinkelsteins lined the stages of the tank testing area which add an extra sting in the tail for any driver who veers off the road.
Britain’s Matthew Wilson remains 12th despite a difficult morning where the 24-year-old clipped a small tree half-way through the day’s opening stage. This was followed by a heavy landing on the lengthy 34.18 km Arena Planzerplatte stage which resulted in pains in his back and chest. Wilson nursed himself through the day’s repeat afternoon loop and the Cumbrian lies just 3.9 seconds adrift of 11th place.
Former J-WRC champion Aaron Burkart returned to today’s rally under SupeRally regulations but was forced to contend with rear-wheel drive only in his Ford Fiesta RS WRC after an incident on Stage 8. The German driver made it back to the midday service where the team worked hard to repair the car’s front right driveshaft. A relatively trouble-free afternoon followed for Burkart and the driver lies 35th going into the final day.
An incident on ADAC Rallye Deutschland’s opening day knocked Mads Østberg out of competitive battle but the 23-year-old was using today’s stages to learn more about asphalt and to gain experience on the fast German roads. Despite suffering two punctures on the day’s closing stages which incurred significant time loss, the talented Norwegian driver battled back to finish the day 22nd overall.
Everything has been going better this afternoon but it’s been a difficult day.
Henning Solberg said:
“Today’s main difficulty has been trying to keep the brakes cool. We still need to find the right braking technique but I think I’m getting closer to finding it. When driving the Plazzerplatte stage I took it very carefully - getting through the stage was my main priority. There were a lot of cuts this afternoon and there were areas where kerb was jutting out the surface – it’s not surprising that there were so many punctures when you looked at the road. It’s one of the toughest rallies in the WRC but I want to make it back to seventh tomorrow. I’m only a few seconds behind Kimi so I will try my best to make it possible.”
Matthew Wilson said:
“Everything has been going better this afternoon but it’s been a difficult day. About half way through the opening stage we went slightly wide on a corner where there was some loose gravel. There was a small tree and I think we hit the back left wheel. Then just over half way on the long Panzerplatte stage, we went over a bump and I felt something click in my back and had a pain in my chest. Scott was trying to ask if I was OK but I couldn’t speak, it was like I was winded. It’s OK when I’m strapped in but I could feel it when we’re moving about and it was quite bad on the day’s closing stage. We lost our brakes on the last couple of stages, it’s been a hard day but I’m not going to give up – we’ll come back tomorrow and try to set some good times.”
Mads Ostberg said:
“A lot has happened today so I don’t really know where to start! We raised the car’s ride height for this afternoon as we had it far too low this morning. The long stage was so difficult first time round as we were too low but then we got a slow puncture on the next pass. The Hermeskell stage was good – we did it last year and it’s a stage I enjoy. It’s been tricky on some of the gravel sections on corners this afternoon but these stages have been good for practice. We had another puncture on same place as Jari-Matti [Latvala] on Stage 13 and then a slow puncture on the last one. Matthew passed us but we caught him for the final 8 km and we had a great last split chasing our team-mate!”
Aaron Burkart said:
“Everything has been going OK for us this afternoon, we had a little bit of understeer in the car and during the last two stages the brakes had very little stopping power. For sure, this morning was more difficult – after a hairpin on Stage 8 we were driving in real-wheel drive only but the team did a great job of fixing everything at service so I would like to thank them for their efforts. It’s been a hard day but I’m enjoying my experience in the Ford Fiesta RS WRC and learning on every stage. Tomorrow’s stages are very technical but I hope we will have no problems and that we can concentrate on setting some fast times.”