Subaru World Rally Team summary The Subaru World Rally Team ended the first half of the World Rally Championship season with both cars in the points in Greece including a well-earned podium for Petter Solberg and Phil Mills. For both...
Subaru World Rally Team summary
The Subaru World Rally Team ended the first half of the World Rally Championship season with both cars in the points in Greece including a well-earned podium for Petter Solberg and Phil Mills. For both crews, todays objective was to consolidate their positions in the points. Although the final leg was both shorter and less demanding than the previous two days of rallying, there was no margin for error on the fast Greek tracks. With an advantage of more than a minute over the fourth-placed driver, Petter and Phil didnt jeopardise their podium, while Chris Atkinson and Stephane Prevot made sixth place their own with a solid run throughout the days five timed tests.
SS18: 0733hrs Avlonas 1 (20.00km)
The crews left service just before 0700hrs and drove north west to an
area of farmland north west of Athens to tackle the first stage of the
day. It was a fast, flowing test, featuring some long corners and very
few twisty bits. Petter set a time of 12m 23.4s, which was fifth
fastest and kept him in third position. Chris wasnt completely satisfied with the feel of his car on this opening stage, although his time of 12m 42.0s meant he remained sixth overall.
Fastest time: S. Loeb (Citroen) 12m 05.1s
SS19: 0813hrs Assopia 1 (17.87km)
Next the competitors drove north west, past the town of Skourta, to
tackle the Assopia section. It was a brand new test through farmland
and the roadside featured lots of ditches, ready to catch out careless
drivers. Both Subaru World Rally Team drivers successfully negotiated
the test. Petters time of 11m 15.5s placed him fifth, while Chris
negotiated the test in 11m 23.2s eighth quickest. There was no change
to their overall positions.
Fastest time: M. Gronholm (Ford) 10m 58.6s
SS20: 0933hrs Imottos 2 (11.44km)
SS21: 1205hrs Avlonas 2 (20.00km)
After a 30-minute service at the rallys base in Markopoulo, the crews
headed back out to speed through the Avlonas test for a second time.
This time through the stage had been largely swept clear of loose
gravel, although some large rocks remained close to the racing line.
Petter and Chris carried on with the task of protecting their
positions. The Norwegian set a time of 12m 01.2s (almost 22s quicker
than his earlier run through the test). He was fourth fastest, just
1.2s off the fastest time. Meanwhile Chris stopped the clocks at 12m
Fastest time: M. Hirvonen (Ford) 12m 00.0s
SS22: 1245hrs Assopia 2 (17.87km)
The competitors drove a short road section to start the penultimate
stage of the rally. As expected, times on the second pass through the
test were faster than in the morning. Petter finished the stage with a
time of 10m 50.8s, some 25s faster than his run when the road was
strewn with gravel. Even though he lost vital seconds with a stall on
the start-line, he was just 3s off the fastest time through the stage.
Chris was 2.5s slower, setting a time of 10m 53.3s, more than 30s
quicker than his earlier effort. With just the short Superspecial
inside the Olympic equestrian centre to go, Petter and Chris looked
secure in third and sixth positions respectively.
Fastest time: JM Latvala (Ford) 10m 47.8s
SS23: 1430hrs SSS Hippodrome 3 (3.20km)
For the third and final time, the crew negotiated the Superspecial
inside the Olympic equestrian centre in Markopoulo. Chris went up
against Henning Solberg in his heat, and beat his rival with a time of
2m 58.2s. Petter was drawn against Mikko Hirvonen and won by a clear
margin of 1.2s. The result secured Petter and Chris in third and sixth
Fastest time: D. Sordo (Citroen) 2m 55.4s
Team management quote
Subaru World Rally Team managing director, Richard Taylor: "Its been a very positive weekend for the team and were delighted to see Petter on the podium and Chris in the top six. We achieved five fastest stage times, which is a clear measure of the 2007 Imprezas true potential. We now have two months to refine the car and make sure that were able to consistently challenge for the top of the leaderboard throughout the second half of the season.
Car number seven
Petter Solberg: Its been a difficult rally but Im very happy to finish on the podium. Sebastien had too much of a lead for us to catch him today, so instead we concentrated on keeping a steady pace, driving carefully and getting the championship points. There have been a lot of important guests from Subaru in Japan here in Greece and Mr Katsurada, the president of STI, is retiring this week so Im especially pleased that weve been able to get a Subaru on the podium for him. Its been a good weekend for the whole team actually and the car is getting better and better. We know we have more work to do before we can be satisfied, and over the summer break well be working flat out to get things ready for the second half of the season.
Car number eight
Chris Atkinson: We definitely made a positive start to this rally, and it was more than a good road position that enabled us to do those times. Id say the car was working better than it had done on the last few rallies, so that was a good sign. But unfortunately we lost some of that performance later on in the day. Saturday just wasnt our day and we suffered with some classic Acropolis problems like the punctures and damaged components. In the end we werent able to rediscover the performance or the feeling we had enjoyed on the first morning, and thats the challenge for us over the next two months. We're certainly getting closer, and I really hope well be able to win more stages when we get to Finland.
BFGoodrich tyre technician, Didier Martin: "This has been a good rally for BFGoodrich and Subaru. We were very pleased to see the pace that Petter and Chris showed, especially on Friday when an excellent tyre choice helped them both to win stages. Overall the drivers have been very satisfied with the tyre choices they have made, as well as the choice of constructions and compounds that were nominated before the rally. We look forward to working in partnership with Subaru in the coming weeks to further improve the performance of the car ready for the second half of the season.
The next event
It's time for a break in the World Rally Championship: the next event for the Subaru World Rally Team will be Rally Finland on 3-5 August. However, the team will stay busy during the rest of June and July by testing its Subaru Impreza WRC2007 and participating in the Goodwood Festival of Speed (22-24 June).