An excellent day for the 555 Subaru World Rally Team. Contesting one of the toughest events in the WRC calendar, Subaru driver Petter Solberg delivered a faultless performance at the wheel of his Impreza WRC2003 to maintain his overnight lead and...
An excellent day for the 555 Subaru World Rally Team. Contesting one of the toughest events in the WRC calendar, Subaru driver Petter Solberg delivered a faultless performance at the wheel of his Impreza WRC2003 to maintain his overnight lead and claim the second victory of his WRC career. Winning by an incredible 4 minutes 14 seconds, the 28-year-old and his co-driver Phil Mills clinched five of the day's six stage wins and collected ten points in both the Drivers' and Manufacturers' Championships. Their victory marks an impressive 36th WRC win for Japanese manufacturer Subaru.
0853hrs Vavatsinia - Mandra Kambiou 1 (19.00km)
Fastest time: Solberg (Subaru) 17:00.3
Setting out to clinch the second WRC victory of his career, Subaru's Petter Solberg attacked from the outset today. Claiming the stage win, Subaru's eighth of the event, the Norwegian increased his lead by a further 3.8 seconds, at the expense of Peugeot's Harri Rovanpera who set the second fastest time. With the duo locked in their own battle for the top spot, they finished the uphill Vavatsinia test nearly fifteen seconds quicker than the rest of the field. Citroen's Colin McRae was third fastest, with Sebastien Loeb fourth and Carlos Sainz fifth. At the finish there was no change to the overall top ten.
0936hrs Macheras - Agioi Vavatsinias 1 (12.94km)
Fastest time: Solberg (Subaru) 11:26.5
Run last year as SS15, the short Macheras gravel stage is renowned for the big boulders and rocks, which line the side of the route. Twisting through the stage's steep uphill climb and medium fast downhill section, Petter kept his Impreza well positioned in the centre of the road and completed the test 8.1 seconds faster than his rivals to take a second consecutive stage win and increase his overall lead to more than half a minute. Rovanpera was second quickest, with the Citroen trio of McRae, Loeb and Sainz again taking the next three positions.
1019hrs Kellaki - Foinikaria 1 (9.49km)
Fastest time: Solberg (Subaru) 8:29.2
Despite cutting one of the stage's many tightening right-hand corners too tightly and bending the steering on his Impreza, Petter Solberg continued to set the pace and was again fastest, this time by a margin of 9.4 seconds. At the finish, his lead had increased to 47.6 seconds with just 41.43 competitive kilometres remaining. A good run from Sainz saw the Spaniard finish second fastest, with Rovanpera third, McRae fourth and Ford's Mikko Hirvonen fifth. Lying sixth overall, the young Focus driver was looking good for his first ever points finish. Loeb reported electronic problems and managed only eighth fastest, but with a 27.3 second gap remaining between him and team-mate McRae at the finish, he remained third overall. Having lost 27.6 seconds through the test, the Frenchman would have been relieved to return to Limassol for the scheduled service.
1237hrs Vavatsinia - Mandra Kambiou 2 (19.00km)
Fastest time: Solberg (Subaru) 16:45.3
With all eyes on the tense battle for the top spot between Subaru's Solberg and Peugeot's Rovanpera, disaster struck for the French team's remaining car. A broken front left drive shaft cost the Finn over a minute and a half and seemingly ended all hope of him catching stage winner and overall leader Solberg. At the finish 2 minutes 12.7 seconds separated the pair. With the battling duo having steadily pulled away from the rest of the field in the preceding stages, the Finn maintained a 2 minute cushion over third-placed Sebastien Loeb, but with no scheduled service before the remaining two stages, his position began to look precarious. Citroen continued their steady run with Sainz finishing second fastest, and McRae and Loeb tying for third.
1320hrs Macheras - Agioi Vavatsinias 2 (12.94km)
Fastest time: Sainz (Citroen) 11:32.8
With the pressure off, rally leader Petter Solberg eased off on the second pass through the narrow and rutted Macheras test and cruised through to finish fourth fastest and maintained his overall lead. Rovanpera, his closest challenger overall, was seventh fastest. Having removed the failed front left drive shaft from his Peugeot before the start, the Finn contested the stage with rear wheel drive only on his 206, and dropped a further 58.9 seconds. At the finish he remained 1 minute 6.6 seconds ahead of third-placed Loeb in the overall standings, but with 9.49km left to run, the Frenchman had the coveted silver position well within in his sights.
1403hrs Kellaki - Foinikaria 2 (9.49km)
Fastest time: Solberg (Subaru) 8:28.7
Taking half a second off his previous run through the mountain hugging Kellaki test, Subaru's Petter Solberg didn't miss a beat through the final test and finished 1.6 seconds ahead of the field to take his seventh stage win of the event, Subaru's eleventh, and his second ever WRC victory. Still running with rear wheel drive only on his Peugeot, Harri Rovanpera held off a late challenge by Sebastien Loeb to take second, albeit by just 2.8 seconds, while Loeb was third quickest, the same position that he took overall.
David Lapworth , 555 Subaru World Rally Team Principal: "The whole team is delighted with this well deserved win. We've worked very hard for twelve months now and have focused on being strong on this type of event. The competition has been very tough, but we've been able to combine the excellent reliability and competitive speed of the car. Petter's and Phil's performance has been one of the coolest and calculated that I can remember. We've brought the car forward now and have got more things planned for the second half of the season. We feel very well prepared."
Petter Solberg: "This is fantastic for the team, Subaru and Pirelli. I have really enjoyed the whole rally. We know that we can win on these rough and tough stages and everybody's been working so hard - we've had the perfect weekend, not one problem with the car or the tyres. I would like to thank everyone involved in this victory. This has come at the right time for our Championship challenge. We've got some exciting developments still to come and I'm really looking forward to the next event in Germany. But first we are going to celebrate tonight with the team."
News from Pirelli
Fiore Brivio , Pirelli Tyres Rally Manager: "Today has been an excellent day. This season we have seen how competitive the tyre and vehicle package has been, and we are delighted to see the result of all the hard work that has been put in. This victory continues Pirelli's excellent tradition of winning the most arduous events in the WRC."
Round eight of the 2003 World Rally Championship starts in just over four weeks time, when teams travel to Germany for the second WRC Rally Deutschland. An all-asphalt event, there is a marked contrast between the event's three Legs. While Leg 1 takes competitors through the narrow, twisty vineyard roads in the Mosel Valley, Leg 2, run in rough the Baumholder military training area, is more similar to a gravel event, with the final Leg comprising a series of very quick stages. Starting from the city of Trier on 25 July, the event includes 23 stages and 394.72 competitive kilometres. The winning car is expected to cross the finish ramp at 1545hrs on 27 July.