Rally Italia Sardegna
Solberg sets Sardinia shakedown pace
Petter Solberg has got his bid to win Rally d'Italia Sardegna off to the perfect start by going fastest in shakedown for the world championship counter.
Solberg, world rally champion in 2003, set a best time of 1m45.4s over the 2.06-kilometre Monte Pinu stage this morning at the wheel of his Citroen DS3 WRC.
"I'm aiming to win because I need the points," said the Norwegian. "I feel much more confident in the car after a good test on medium rough gravel before the rally. I didn't make any big changes, it's just the details but I'm feeling good."
Ford's Jari-Matti Latvala was second fastest in his Fiesta RS WRC with a time of 1m46.1s. The Finn won in Sardinia the last time the rally was included in the WRC back in 2009.
Mads Ostberg, at the wheel of an M-Sport Stobart Fiesta, was third fastest with Sebastien Ogier, winner of the last two WRC events, fourth in his Citroen.
World champion Sebastien Loeb languished in ninth overall. However, the French ace was one of several drivers who opted not to chase a top time in an effort to preserve his car over the rough gravel stage, which deteriorated significantly during the session.
Dani Sordo was the fastest MINI John Cooper Works WRC driver in sixth overall on his first start at world level since Wales Rally GB in November 2010. The MINI WRC Team is making its debut in the world championship this week as part of a six-event campaign.
"At the moment we don't know how the car will be, but this is the first time for all of us together on a rally and so we just have to wait and see what happens," said the Spaniard afterwards.
Sordo's team-mate Kris Meeke was 12th quickest but said his conservative time was down to the rough nature of the shakedown stage. "It got hellishly rough the more the cars went through and there were some big rocks coming through, boulders the size of a Transit van in place. But I felt confident, we're ready for tomorrow morning."