Locked in a thrilling battle for second place, Subaru driver Petter Solberg delivered a faultless performance at the wheel of his Impreza today. He set a string of consistently fast times and clinched two stage wins before overturning Richard...
Locked in a thrilling battle for second place, Subaru driver Petter Solberg delivered a faultless performance at the wheel of his Impreza today. He set a string of consistently fast times and clinched two stage wins before overturning Richard Burns' overnight advantage and snatching second from him on the very last stage. The incredible performance earned him eight Championship points, and the title of Inmarsat Star of the rally. The highest placed Finnish driver, Tommi Makinen, secured sixth overall to net a further three WRC Championship points. Between them, the drivers collected eleven Manufacturers' points for Subaru.
SS18 0856hrs Parkkola 1 (19.88km)
Fastest time: Martin (Ford) 9:53.0
Cheered on by his league of Estonian supporters, who had turned out in their tens of thousands to support their hero, Ford's Markko Martin was right back on the attack this morning and topped the times to take the stage win. Subaru's Petter Solberg continued his excellent run and was second fastest, enough to catapult him up the leaderboard from fourth to second overall, while Burns was third, the same position that he fell to overall. Sainz was fourth fastest, despite damaging a wheel rim, which affected the handling of his Citroen. Last used in 2000, a huge jump 250m from the start launched many cars more than 60 metres through the air - a sharp wake up call for the drivers and a severe test of their cars' suspension. After the finish crews moved directly to the start of SS19.
SS19 0956hrs Mokkipera 1 (13.96km)
Fastest time: Burns (Peugeot) 6:56.0
With nine consecutive adverse camber, sixth-gear jumps in the first 1.5km, the Mokkipera test demanded the ultimate in precision driving, but it was no problem for Subaru's Petter Solberg. With his Impreza airborne for the much of the first section, the Norwegian displayed a consistent driving rhythm and carefully negotiated the tricky test to finish second fastest, ahead of Martin, Loeb and Sainz, who struggled with a broken left rear damper. But it was tight at the top and seeking to snatch back overall second, Burns was on a charge. Taking the stage win and finishing 0.3 seconds faster than Solberg, at the finish just 0.6 seconds separated the pair. Further down the order, there was disaster for Ford's Duval and Hyundai's Valimaki. Striking the same rock 6km from the start, the pair both ripped a wheel off their cars and retired from the rally.
SS20 1030hrs Palsankyla (25.46km)
Fastest time: Burns (Peugeot) 13:31.2
In a nail-biting stage, Martin continued his excellent run and finished third fastest to maintain his overall lead by more than a minute. But all eyes were on the battle for second. Clearly on a charge, Burns set the fastest time to snatch back the potential silver place from Subaru star Solberg -- but it was close -- and, with the pair in a league of their own, Solberg was just 2.2 seconds slower. Incredibly, after more than 350 stage kilometres, at the finish of SS20 the pair were separated by only 1.8 seconds. No leading competitors were caught out by the test's vast jump, which elevated some cars more than 3 metres off the ground, and, after the finish, crews returned to Jyvaskyla for service.
SS21 1238hrs Kuohu (7.76km)
Fastest time: Burns (Peugeot) 3:45.3
The intense battle for second again spurred Burns to go fastest through the short test and the Brit inched another 1.3 seconds ahead of Solberg. By the end of the stage 3.1 seconds separated the duo. Despite claiming he would drive fairly slowly through the final loop of stages, Martin was second fastest, while Solberg, cheered on by his loyal fan club, was third. His damper and wheel problems fixed in the preceding service, Citroen's leading driver Sainz was back on the pace and fourth fastest, completing the test just 0.1 seconds faster than local Finn, Tommi Makinen.
SS22 1305hrs Parkkola 2 (19.88km)
Fastest time: Solberg (Subaru) 9:39.7
Solberg, Burns and Martin were in a class of their own through the repeated Parkkola stage -- although it was the Subaru driver that had the edge and took the stage win. Clawing back 1.3 seconds from Burns, the Norwegian was on maximum attack and delighted his fans by reducing the overall gap between the pair to just 1.8 seconds. With one more stage to run, the tense battle for second would go right to the wire. Citroen's Loeb was fourth, closely matched by Sainz and Makinen, who were fifth and sixth respectively.
SS23 1405hrs Mokkipera 2 (13.96km)
Fastest time: Solberg (Subaru) 6:47.8
In a thrilling climax to the rally, Burns began the closing stage less than 2 seconds ahead of Solberg. Split times showed the pair were neck-and-neck through the early part of the stage, but as the tension mounted, Solberg began to pull away and by the finish line had managed to build an astonishing 3 second lead over the Brit. Petter collected the stage win and second place overall -- his highest ever result in Finland. Burns had to settle for third. Meanwhile, Markko Martin kept his nerve and was third fastest over the final 14km to secure his second WRC win and become only the third non-Nordic driver ever to claim victory on the event. He won by a margin of 58.9 seconds.
David Lapworth, 555 Subaru World Rally Team Principal: "That was pretty exciting, wasn't it? An incredible performance from Petter and Phil, the whole team is delighted for them, although it was a bit cruel of him to keep us guessing right up until the end! He's level with Marcus now and just eleven points off the lead of the Championship. Both cars have run fantastically, and we'll take a great deal of confidence with us to Australia."
Petter Solberg: "We've taken quite a few risks all rally, and I feel I've been driving over the limit for most of the time. For the whole day today, I've been flat out and tried my best to catch Richard, but, on that last stage, there are lots of long corners and medium fast sections and I knew I had a chance to catch him. I tell you, I pushed so hard on that last one (SS23). We almost lost it on the first corner, but I kept on going. At one point, I was standing in my seat with all my weight on the throttle pedal -- I actually bent it! I know it's not quite a win, but it certainly feels like one!
Tommi Makinen: "It's good to finish in the points here, but I think my performance was only about 70% of what it could have been. There have been quite a lot of small things that have held me back, so overall not such a good weekend. Petter deserves his result, he did a great job."
News from Pirelli
Fiore Brivio, Pirelli Tyres Rally Manager: "Once again Tommi and Petter have made different tyre choices in order to suit their individual driving style. Petter used the KM4, whereas Tommi preferred to use a cut K4 in the morning and then a KM4 later in the day. The vibration problems of yesterday have not reoccurred today. Petter's pace, driving on our new construction of gravel tyre, has been superb during his battle for second position. The overall result has been excellent, with a great performance by Petter and we're looking forward to Australia."
Teams cross the globe to Australia for the tenth round of the FIA World Rally Championship. Beginning on Thursday 4 September, the rally will be based around the Western Australia capital city of Perth. With much of the rally contested on gravel roads through forests south and east of the host city, crews will face 386.31 competitive kilometres and 24 gravel stages.