Petter Solberg leads the Subaru challenge after today's first Leg of Rally Germany. The Norwegian lies fifth overall thanks largely to the team's technicians who worked through the night to repair his car after he crashed at the pre-event...
Petter Solberg leads the Subaru challenge after today's first Leg of Rally Germany. The Norwegian lies fifth overall thanks largely to the team's technicians who worked through the night to repair his car after he crashed at the pre-event shakedown test. The Norwegian left service this morning in a near-immaculate car that performed faultlessly throughout the day. Chris Atkinson's confidence on wet asphalt increased throughout the Leg and the Australian ended the day in ninth place.Stephane Sarrazin struggled with wildly changing weather conditions that never seemed to suit his tyres.He finished the Leg tenth.
SS1: 0923hrs Ruwertal/Fell 1 (20.04km)
Petter Solberg put his shakedown accident far behind him as he seized the
second fastest time through the opening stage of the 2006 Rallye
Deutschland.Subaru technicians had worked through the night to repair the
damage and Petter left service in a near-immaculate car. World Champion
Sebastien Loeb took the first stage win of the event, although the
slippery surface produced by heavy rain, grape mulch and mud caused
problems for other crews.Marcus Gronholm went straight on at a junction
into a fence and damaged the rear of his Ford Focus, while team-mate
Mikko Hirvonen went off the road twice. Petter's team-mate Chris
Atkinson spun and stalled in a hairpin while Matthew Wilson slithered off
the road at a tight corner and damaged the front of his Focus. Dani Sordo
finished the stage with a broken wheel, however Jari-Matti Latvala was
the first retirement of the day as he got stuck in a barrier next to the
road. The stage was stopped and then cancelled while his Focus was
removed to a safe location.
Fastest Time: Loeb (Citroen) 11:44.6
SS2: 1006hrs Dhrontal 1 (12.61km)
The heavy rain that had marked the opening stage of the rally stopped for
the second test and crews reported much drier road conditions. Sordo
stopped to change his wheel on the road section to the stage and recorded
the fastest stage time through the twisty, uphill Dhrontal pass to move
into second overall, just over 14secs behind rally leader Loeb. Finn Toni
Gardemeister, driving a privately-entered Citroen Xsara, was third
fastest, just half a second quicker than Subaru's Petter Solberg.
Fastest Time: Sordo (Citroen) 7:18.7
SS3: 1051hrs Grafschaft-Veldenz 1 (17.73km)
The third stage of the day was the new-for-2006 Grafschaft-Veldenz stage
through the Mosel vineyards.The early morning rain stayed away and crews
started on an almost entirely dry road.Crews who had opted for a softer
tyre in anticipation of wetter conditions were at a distinct
disadvantage, including Subaru's Stephane Sarrazin.The Frenchman
finished the stage with the 13th quickest time. The top four overall
remained Loeb, Sordo, Solberg and Gronholm, however Manfred Stohl moved
into fifth ahead of Francois Duval and Gardemeister. The Austrian
recorded the second fastest time through the 17km speed test and pulled
out a four second advantage over the Belgian.
Fastest Time: Loeb (Citroen) 10:49.8
SS4: 1141hrs Moselwein 1 (16.98km)
The final stage before service was another classic German test through
the Mosel vineyards north of the Bostalsee service area. A wrong pacenote
led Xavier Pons off the road at a left-hand corner and into the grape
vines.The Spaniard finished the stage with a cracked windscreen covered
with squashed grapes, nearly one minute slower than stage winner
Sordo.Marcus Gronholm was 2.5secs slower than Sordo and moved into third
overall ahead of Petter. Skoda's Andreas Aigner was sixth as he
benefited from cut slick tyres on a drying road, however the Austrian
lost some time as he passed Matthew Wilson on the stage.The young
Englishman reported engine problems following a heavy landing after a
jump three kilometres from the start and made very slow progress to the
finish line.Chris Atkinson demonstrated his increasing confidence on wet
asphalt as he moved into tenth overall.
Fastest Time: Sordo (Citroen) 10:23.3
SS5: 1434hrs Ruwertal/Fell 2 (20.04km)
After a 30 minute service halt in a muddy, wet Bostalsee service area,
crews headed back to the Ruwertal pass for the start of the second loop
of stages.Heavy rain started soon after Loeb, running first on the road,
entered the stage. The Frenchman took full advantage of the drier road
and took his third stage victory of the day to extend his overall lead to
almost 24secs.Many of the following drivers reported slides and off-road
excursions from the wetter asphalt, including Dani Sordo.Anticipating
drier conditions, Petter Solberg and Stephane Sarrazin had selected slick
tyres for the afternoon's stages.Both drove cautiously and Petter
retained fourth overall and Stephane moved up one position.
Fastest Time: Loeb (Citroen) 11:34.3
SS6: 1517hrs Dhrontal 2 (12.61km)
Subaru's Petter Solberg moved into third position overall after
Marcus Gronholm lost over 30secs through the 12km speed test and fell
down the leaderboard to fifth overall.Running on slick tyres on an
exceptionally wet road, the Finn spun at a slippery corner. Chris
Atkinson posted his best stage finish of the day with the joint third
fastest time and moved into ninth ahead of Mikko Hirvonen.The
Australian's cautious choice of intermediate tyres for the second
loop of stages proved ideal as heavy rain continued to fall.
Fastest Time: Sordo (Citroen) 7:18.2
SS7: 1602hrs Grafschaft Veldenz 2 (17.73km)
Crews were again faced with torrential rain on the second run through the
new Grafschaft-Veldenz stage.Sebastien Loeb and Dani Sordo continued to
monopolise the top two stage positions with Gardemeister and Gronholm in
third and fourth. The Finns' respective times moved them ahead of
Petter Solberg, who had a cautious drive through the damp stage. There
were further changes in the top ten as Duval dropped more than three and
a half minutes to Loeb when he ran wide, hit a tree and damaged his rear
Fastest Time: Loeb (Citroen) 10:57.9
SS8: 1652hrs Moselwein 2 (16.98km)
The classic Moselwein stage concluded Leg one's stages.Loeb
extended his lead over Sordo to more than 42secs with his fifth win of
the day ahead of Finn Mikko Hirvonen. The result was the young
Finn's best result of the day and moved him to seventh overall.Toni
Gardemeister held on to third overall as Marcus Gronholm sought to make
up the time lost earlier in the afternoon. Chris Atkinson's steady
progress continued and he finished the Leg in ninth, just ahead of
team-mate Stephane Sarrazin.
Fastest Time: Loeb (Citroen) 10:20.4
SUBARU WORLD RALLY TEAM SPORTING DIRECTOR, LUIS MOYA:
For a lot of us in the team, the fact that Petter was able to start the rally at all today was a kind of victory.The engineers and technicians have worked miracles over the last 24-hours, and for Petter to finish the Leg in the top-five means all the hard work was worthwhile. The biggest single influence on performance today has been the rain.We've seen some extremely unusual weather which has made tyre choices almost impossible to call. In such difficult circumstances Petter has done a very good job, he's run reliably and kept out of trouble.Stephane has struggled in the conditions.His tyre choices haven't been ideal - especially for the first loop of stages - but we hope for better things over the next couple of days. Chris is still relatively inexperienced on fully wet asphalt but he's kept a cool head and has run well, increasing his pace and confidence throughout the day.
I started this morning just happy to be able to drive at all, but in fact the day has been pretty good. The rain is the main thing; some drivers have been extremely fortunate with the way it fell, some of us have not! I feel that we have done a good progression with the car, but obviously our tyre choices let us down and we weren't able to gather much information from the last three stages as the rain just poured down.Tomorrow I'll try hard and do what I can. I think a podium finish is possible; we just have to get the tyre choices right.
Not a bad day.I had a reasonable tyre call this afternoon but unfortunately we still got caught out a bit by the weather. On the afternoon loop we were at the back of the running order and it absolutely poured down.We lost some time there, and even through we were better that everyone around us, the guys with a clean run were much faster. But we're ninth now, and not too far away from sixth really, we've been competitive with our team mates and that's what we wanted to do.
Not great.This morning I had wet tyres for roads that turned out to be dry, and this afternoon a slick tyre for roads that were mainly wet. Unfortunately, the wild weather meant I had the wrong tyre all of the time. My worst moment was on SS7, I spun and lost about 20 seconds, the road was fully wet and on the slick tyre it was unbelievably slippery.Tomorrow, my wish is that I have the right tyres for the right conditions!
News from Pirelli
MARIO ISOLA, PIRELLI COMPETIZIONI RALLY MANAGER
Generally we are quite happy with the performance today.Of course we were very unlucky with the forecast, but we based the tyre choice on the information we had at the time. Everybody went out on slicks but after two or three cars had been through it started raining and put the later crews at a big disadvantage. We've seen an improvement since Corsica and Spain and we'll have to see how it goes tomorrow.
Crews head for the notorious Baumholder military area tomorrow, famed for its fast straights, tight 90 degree bends and concrete boulders which line the route. The roads are commonly used as a tank training ground so the asphalt surface is hard, broken and covered with a fine layer of dust and gravel. Crews will cover 148.64 competitive kilometres over six stages in the tank area and one loop through a Superspecial in the small town of St.Wendel.
Can we fix it? Yes we can! How the Subaru World Rally team brought Petter's car back to life.
At 1105hrs on Thursday 10 August Petter set off for his fifth pass through Rally Germany's 3.3km shakedown stage. At 1118hrs the team's sporting director, Luis Moya, received a telephone call from Petter's co-driver Phil Mills - his first words were "it's a mess". The stage was stopped, Petter and Phil got out of the seats and the team started work on a plan…