Monte Carlo: Subaru final summary

Current World Champion Petter Solberg continued to demonstrate the performance of the Subaru Impreza on a range of difficult asphalt conditions today, and scored a stage win on SS13. Unfortunately, a small error on the penultimate test cost the ...

Current World Champion Petter Solberg continued to demonstrate the performance of the Subaru Impreza on a range of difficult asphalt conditions today, and scored a stage win on SS13. Unfortunately, a small error on the penultimate test cost the Norwegian two places on the leaderboard, but he still ended the event in a points-scoring position.

Stage Reports

SS12: 0845 Sospel - Turini - La Bollene (32.58km)

Regarded by Petter Solberg's co-driver Phil Mills as 'one of the most famous and fantastic pieces of road in the whole championship', Turini offered a combination of sixth gear straights, tight hairpins and rapidly changing conditions. Taking competitors more than 1,600 metres above sea level to the top of a very icy, spectator-lined, col before descending to La Bollène, where the road surface became damp with some dry patches, the stage was the highest of the event. With none of the usual snow evident on the test's peak, only Peugeot's Freddy Loix opted to run on partially studded tyres, while the remaining WRC competitors chose slicks. Markko Martin was fastest for the stage win, Marcus Gronholm was second and Francois Duval was third. Despite suffering a spin and stall on a hairpin and dropping around 9 seconds to team-mate Martin, Duval retained second position overall by a margin of 3.6 seconds. After the finish, crews moved directly to the start of SS13.
Fastest Time: Martin (Ford) 25:09.0

SS13: 0938 Lantosque - Luceram (19.52km)

The first pass through the Lantosque test (a shortened version of SS7) saw the first stage win for Subaru's Petter Solberg. Running on a harder compound slick Pirelli tyre, the World Champion completed the partially dry 19.52km stage quickest, demonstrating the performance of the Subaru / Pirelli package on variable asphalt conditions. None of the leading competitors were caught out by the stage's five icy corners, but Freddy Loix struggled to find enough pace through the damp and dry sections on his partially studded tyres and was 18th fastest. Event leader Sebastien Loeb was fifth quickest to retain his overall lead by 1:13.2. After the finish, crews returned to Monaco for the final 20-minute service.
Fastest Time: Solberg (Subaru) 13:59.4

SS14: 1205 Sospel - Turini - La Bollene (32.58km)

There were tense moments for the 555 Subaru team on the second pass through the famous Turini stage, when Petter Solberg hit a patch of snow in his Impreza and slid into a wall collecting front-left suspension damage. He was able to complete the 32.58km stage and maintain overall fifth, but dropped almost four minutes. With no scheduled service before the final test, Solberg, and co-driver Phil Mills, were forced to make roadside repairs in the short liaison section before the start of SS15, which was likely to seem far longer than its 19.52km. Looking to the leaders, Ford's Markko Martin set the quickest time to take the stage win and snatch overall second from Duval, while Gronholm was second fastest and Loeb, third. As the sun came out and temperatures rose, the icy section on the descent from the Col de Turini began to melt, enabling competitors to set faster times than on the previous run.
Fastest Time: Martin (Ford) 24:03.9

SS15: 1258 Lantosque - Luceram (19.52km)

Loeb was third quickest to win the event by a margin of 1 minute 12.6 seconds, take his second WRC Monte Carlo title and assume the top spot in the 2004 Drivers' Championship. In a tense battle for second, Ford team-mates Martin and Duval started the test separated by just 2 seconds. After an early lead by Martin, Duval was quickest through the mid section, but it wasn't enough and Martin regained the upper hand in the closing kilometres to finish ahead of his younger colleague and take the silver position. Duval had to settle for third, equalling his career best set in Turkey and Corsica last year. Solberg continued to lose time as a result of the damage sustained to his Impreza on the previous test, but crossed the finish to take overall seventh.
Fastest Time: Gronholm (Peugeot) 13:46.1

Team Quotes

Petter Solberg

What can I say? I just hit a patch of snow, braked a little too late and slid into a wall. It's a shame as I wasn't really driving to risk anything, but these things just happen sometimes. Perhaps I was a little unlucky, but at least we didn't drop out of the points altogether. Luckily, we're taking two points away this year, which is two more than last year! Overall, it's not such a bad result especially when you consider that there are fifteen more rallies still to go.

David Lapworth , 555 Subaru World Rally Team Principal

Monte Carlo has certainly lived up to its difficult and specialist reputation. It's a shame that after such a well-paced performance on Friday and Saturday Petter was caught out this afternoon. But, these things happen and we can take some consolation from the fact that he's got some points in the bag. Mechanically, both cars were trouble free all rally, and the pace that Petter showed with his stage win on SS13 highlighted the tarmac developments that have been made in conjunction with Pirelli.

News from Pirelli

Fiore Brivio , Pirelli Tyres Rally Manager:

Leg three of Rallye Monte Carlo has again brought both highs and lows. Petter, using the Pirelli PZero RX tarmac rally tyre, in a slightly harder compound than yesterday, set the fastest stage time on SS13. Today's conditions have been better and cleaner than in the previous few days, but naturally we were disappointed to lose two places in the last stage.

Next Event - Round 2 - Sweden

Teams move to Sweden for the second round of the 2004 FIA World Rally Championship. Beginning on Thursday 5 February with a ceremonial start in the host town of Karlstad, the Rally of Sweden is the true winter rally of the series, and can sometimes see temperatures fall as low as - 30 degrees. Over three days, drivers will contest 394.80 competitive kilometres based around a single service point in the town of Hagfors, 80km north of Karlstad's rally headquarters. The first stage will start at 0822hrs on Friday 6 February.


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About this article
Series WRC
Drivers Freddy Loix , Marcus Gronholm , Petter Solberg , Sébastien Loeb , Markko Martin