555 Subaru World Rally Team driver Petter Solberg put in another excellent performance today and set a string of consistently fast times. He ended the event in fifth position, securing five Manufacturers' points for Subaru and four in the Drivers'...
555 Subaru World Rally Team driver Petter Solberg put in another excellent performance today and set a string of consistently fast times. He ended the event in fifth position, securing five Manufacturers' points for Subaru and four in the Drivers' championship. After gathering some useful set-up information on yesterdays stages, the team withdrew Tommi's car from the event today after an incident on Leg one dropped him more than 13 minutes behind the leaders, losing any realistic chance of Drivers' points. In other Subaru news, Toshi Arai won the FIA Production WRC class after dominating the event in his Impreza. He won by a margin of more than 2 minutes.
0830hrs Capilla del Monte - San Marcos Sierra 2 (20.02km)
Fastest time: Gronholm (Peugeot) 16:49.2
Anguish for Ford on the first stage on the final Leg. The repeated Capilla del Monte test, which yesterday destroyed Loeb's hopes of scoring his first Argentine finish, saw overnight leader Markko Martin's event come to a devastating end when the engine of his Focus lost all oil pressure 11.4km in. He had been leading the event by 15.2 seconds. In another blow for the team, Francois Duval's Focus lost fourth, fifth and sixth gear 6km from the start, costing the Belgian over 40 seconds. The route, used last year as SS1, followed the edge of a lake for 2.5 km, before ending with a narrow descent towards San Marcos Sierra. Gronholm was fastest, and moved into the overall top spot, while Burns was second and Subaru driver Petter Solberg, third.
0908hrs San Marcos Sierra - Cuchi Corral 2 (22.57km)
Fastest time: Sainz (Citroen) 13:04.6
With clouds of thick dust and a rutted surface making driving conditions difficult through the 22.57km test, Carlos Sainz was fastest, Gronholm second and Burns third. At the finish just 4.1 seconds separated Sainz and Burns in overall second and third, and with both lying less than 25 seconds off Gronholm's overall top spot, the rally looked set for a nail-biting finale. Well cushioned in overall fifth, and using the stage miles to prepare settings for the next round of the WRC in Greece, Petter Solberg was fourth fastest. Duval continued to be dogged by gear-box problems and, after also losing third gear in his Focus, contested the stage with second and first only. After SS22, crews returned to the service point in Le Cumbre.
1032hrs La Falda -- Villa Giardino 2 (9.37km)
Fastest time: Gronholm (Peugeot) 6:24.4
The first of the Leg's original three stages gave Burns the opportunity to up the pressure on Sainz in the battle for overall second, and he finished fourth fastest to maintain a margin of just 4.7 seconds between the two. Gronholm was again fastest, and notched up his tenth stage win of the event and 34th of the season. There were more problems for Ford. Despite replacing the gearbox and part of the exhaust system of Duval's Focus in the preceding service, costing the Belgian a 40 second penalty when the work ran over by four minutes, the young driver's gear selection problems continued and he was contested the stage using the manual gear change system.
1100hrs La Cumbre -- Agua de Oro (21.70km)
Fastest time: Gronholm (Peugeot) 18:23.6
Tight at the top. As the battle for second intensified, Richard Burns blasted through the penultimate test to finish 10 seconds faster than Sainz and seize the coveted silver position. Gronholm was again fastest to retain the lead, while Solberg expertly negotiated the series of uphill hairpins to finish a strong third. While conditions remained clear for the competitors and there was no sign of the fog that shrouded the same stage last year, the dusty and rutted Argentine terrain claimed another victim when Armin Schwarz's Hyundai suffered engine problems 2km from the finish. His misfortune dropped him out of overall sixth and out of the rally, moving Didier Auriol, Toni Gardemeister, Francois Duval up a place to sixth, seventh and eighth positions respectively.
1150hrs Ascochinga -- La Cumbre 2 (28.83km)
Fastest time: Sainz (Citroen) 18:36.5
Carlos Sainz charged through the final stage of the rally to take the stage win and snatch back overall second from Burns after turbo problems dashed the Brit's hopes of taking away the eight driver points. The pair had been almost neck and neck at the mid-point, but the Englishman eventually had to settle for overall third. Gronholm was second fastest to win the event, with Sainz finishing 26.6 seconds behind for second. Petter was third fastest and finished in overall fifth.
David Lapworth , 555 Subaru World Rally Team Principal:
"Clearly we haven't got the result we were hoping for, but nevertheless we leave with a very positive attitude for Greece. We saw how both Tommi and Petter were able to put in excellent times in all conditions, especially when it was rough. Greece and Cyprus are tough events which should really suit us, and I see no reason when we shouldn't be fighting for a win on both of them."
"A lot had happened on this rally, but I kept pushing. It was hard work, but I'm quite happy to come fifth. I've got some more points and there's still a long season to go. The guys in the team have worked really hard and I want to thank them for all their work. Next up we have Acropolis and Cyprus and I know that I can win on both of those."
News from Pirelli
Fiore Brivio , Pirelli Tyres Rally Manager:
"For the final leg Petter again selected the Pirelli PZero KM4 narrow gravel tyre and was happy with the performance of the tyres. Both drivers will leave Argentina and go directly to Spain for a gravel tyre test. We are looking forward to the next WRC round in Greece."
Round six of the 2003 FIA World Rally Championship starts in less than four weeks time, when teams travel to Greece for the Acropolis Rally. The event has the reputation as one of the toughest in the series for cars and drivers, a real car-breaker, and the combination of searing temperatures and rocky stages make it a fearsome challenge. The rally begins on 5 June, concluding on Sunday 8 June.