The Subaru World Rally Team overcame the disappointment of two Leg one accidents to take some positives away from the 41st Rally Catalunya. Chris Atkinson, on just his third tarmac event, set top ten times on all three of Leg three's special...
The Subaru World Rally Team overcame the disappointment of two Leg one accidents to take some positives away from the 41st Rally Catalunya. Chris Atkinson, on just his third tarmac event, set top ten times on all three of Leg three's special stages and achieved his best-ever finish on a sealed surface with 9th overall. After Leg one accident damage ruined any hope of a podium for Petter Solberg, he worked hard on his car's set-up on Legs two and three and was rewarded with a stage win and two crucial manufacturer points. The team now goes to Australia and the final event of 2005 determined to secure second in the drivers' and third in the manufacturers' championship.
SS13 0835hrs Colldejou 2 (28.48km)
The final Leg of the 2005 Rally Catalunya started with a repeat of the 28km Colldejou stage that was run once in Leg two. The test took place in the hills above host city Salou with lingering early morning fog drifting in places across the stage. Petter Solberg started first on the road and reported that visibility was limited to just a few metres in some sections. The Subaru driver nevertheless recorded the fourth fastest time behind overnight rally leader S=E9bastien Loeb and the Ford duo of Roman Kresta and Toni Gardemeister. After picking up a 20secs penalty at the close of Leg two and dropping to fourth overall behind Xavier Pons, Mikko Hirvonen started his charge to regain the final podium spot and closed the gap to just under seven seconds with the fifth quickest time. Chris Atkinson started the Leg just under 30secs behind eighth-placed Jan Kopecky, however by the end of the stage had closed the gap by 10secs to the Czech with the eighth fastest time.
Fastest Stage Time: Loeb (Citroen) 16:57.4
SS14 0928hrs Ruidecanyes 2 (11.27km)
Petter Solberg scored his first stage win of Rally Catalunya through the twisty, bumpy Riudecanyes stage. The Norwegian was pleased with the performance of his Subaru Impreza WRC2005 on the abrasive asphalt as he finished five seconds ahead of the battling Hirvonen and Pons and seven seconds faster than rally leader Loeb. Solberg's time elevated him to 13th overall. Ford driver Toni Gardemeister had another difficult stage as he missed a pace note near the start and went into a ditch losing over four minutes. The impact caused considerable damage to the front-right of the car, although the Finn was able to rejoin the road and finish the stage. Atkinson remained in ninth position overall.
Fastest Stage Time: Solberg (Subaru) 7:31.6
SS15 1121hrs Vilaplana 2 (28.33km)
The battle for third position went right down to the final time split of the event. Xavier Pons and Mikko Hirvonen started the last stage of the rally 6.5secs apart, however Hirvonen had a storming run, setting the fastest time through six of the seven split times on the stage to ultimately take the final podium position by just one second from Pons. Petter Solberg was third quickest to finish the rally 13th overall and collect two valuable manufacturer points for Subaru, while team-mate Chris Atkinson achieved his best-ever result on asphalt with 9th overall. Loeb eased off his pace through the final pass and took his 10th win of the season by one minute 20secs from team-mate Duval. The one-two result was enough to secure Citroen the 2005 manufacturers' championship.
Fastest Stage Time: Hirvonen (Ford) 16:51.6
Subaru World Rally Technical Director, David Lapworth
Media Bulletin - Rally Catalunya - Costa Daurada Leg 3In many respects it has been a frustrating weekend, as we came here to fight for a podium, however after the two accidents on Friday that was not to be. We've been very impressed with the way that Chris has grown in confidence and picked up his pace throughout the weekend. He has set some very encouraging split and stage times and is now relishing the prospect of his home event next. Since Friday, Petter's focus has been on his set-up and I'm pleased that we have also made some good progress. His stage win today was an added bonus and a just result of his hard work. We still have to be happy that we can now go to the final round with Petter in a straight fight for second in the Drivers' championship and third in the manufacturers championship is not an unreasonable target.
Petter Solberg Today was getting better! We've been fine-tuning the setup on dampers and diff settings, and I think that being able to run these last two days and spend time testing the car in rally conditions, will be very useful for the event here next March. Of course it was disappointing not to be fighting for a podium after the accident on Friday, but that's how it is sometimes. At least we've got two manufacturer points and a lot of useful data to take away. In Australia you will see a big fight as it is always very close and I can't wait to get down there and into it!
Chris Atkinson This rally has been good for us. It's just our third asphalt rally and we're achieving the pace targets that we agreed before the event. We've had no problems at all and have learnt a lot. I think that the set-up and driving style are coming together and I've been able to lift my speed all the time. From here we're off to my home rally in Australia and after getting such a good result last year I'm looking forward to doing even better this year, as it will be my first time in a World Rally Car there. The event really suits my style and I'm hoping for a good bit of home support to give us a further boost!
Fiore Brivio, Pirelli Tyres Rally Manager
We feel very sorry for Petter and Stephane, who have been unlucky here in Spain. Nonetheless, they have both proved the pace of the latest evolution of RX tyres on asphalt, and Petter has come away with some manufacturer points. With all the drivers we have conducted some useful testing that will provide vital information for the future. Congratulations to Chris on a successful finish: it was an excellent performance for only his third asphalt rally.