WRC

Rally Finland: Subaru leg one summary

Entries Ninety seven cars began leg one of Rally Finland on Thursday evening. Ninety six restarted on Friday. The route Leg one began on Thursday night with the 2.06km Killeri Superspecial stage, and continued on Friday with ten more stages.

Entries

Ninety seven cars began leg one of Rally Finland on Thursday evening. Ninety six restarted on Friday.

The route

Leg one began on Thursday night with the 2.06km Killeri Superspecial stage, and continued on Friday with ten more stages. The leg covered a competitive total distance of 133.49km and finished with a second visit to Killeri on Friday evening.

Weather

For Thursday's Superspecial the weather was dry and partly cloudy with a temperature of 18 degrees Celsius. Friday was overcast with some sunny spells and was largely dry. Some light rain fell during SS8 and before SS9. The temperature ranged between 14 and 21 degrees Celsius.

Retirements

Jari-Matti Latvala (off road) Kristian Sohlberg (off road)

Subaru summary

The Subaru World Rally Team has two cars in the top five after the first leg of competition on Rally Finland. The Impreza WRC2007 of Atkinson/Prevot is in fourth place, with the identical car of Solberg/Mills just behind in fifth. The pace of both cars increased as the day progressed, and both drivers are hoping for further improvements over the two remaining days of competition. On his debut event for the Subaru World Rally Team, Spain's Xevi Pons proved a fast learner. He and co-driver Xevi Amigo ended the leg les than one second outside the top ten.

Stage summaries

SS1: 2000HRS SSS KILLERI (2.06KM)

Leg one of Rally Finland got underway on Thursday night when crews tackled the spectator-friendly Superspecial stage at Killeri, 13km from Jyvaskyla. Constructed on a loose surface oval horse-trotting track, the circuit extended into the car parks outside the complex to make a twisty and challenging 2.06km loop. Xavier Pons was first up for the Subaru World Rally Team, and scored a commendable victory against experienced local Kristian Sohlberg with a time of 1m 22.9s. Second up was Chris Atkinson, who triumphed over Jari-Matti Latvala with an excellent time of 1m 20.6, which was the fastest of the night. Completing the SWRT clean-sweep was Petter Solberg, recording a time of 1m 21.3 to beat Mikko Hirvonen.
Fastest time: Atkinson (Subaru) 1m 20.6s

SS2: 0754hrs Vellipohja 1 (17.20km)

The first proper stage of the rally was the narrow, technical Vellipohja section, located in the forests 35km south west of the service area. A combination of brand new roads and sections of last year's SS5, Vellipohja features a slippery road surface and a particularly challenging sequence of small crests to catch out the unwary. Overnight rally leader Chris Atkinson was the fastest Subaru driver on the opening test. Despite losing a couple of seconds with a stall midway through, the Australian set the fifth-fastest time. Petter Solberg was seventh fastest, but felt the balance of his car wasn't right for the conditions. Subaru's new signing Xevi Pons had a clean run and was 13th fastest.
Fastest time: Latvala (Ford) 8m 18.7s

SS3: 0850hrs Mokkipera 1 (13.72km)

The famous Mokkipera was second on the cards for Friday, with the addition of a new 1.5km section to make it just a little trickier. Atkinson was the fastest within the team, climbing to a clear fourth place overall. Generally comfortable with the car, he felt a few minor adjustments during Service B would help boost his confidence further. Petter finished seventh fastest in the stage, climbing to sixth overall, while Xavier Pons successfully completed his third WRC stage with SWRT in tenth place and twelfth overall.
Fastest time: Gronholm (Ford) 6m 47.5s

SS4: 0929HRS PALSANKYLA 1(13.31KM)

The final stage in the morning loop was Palsankyla, a very fast and completely flat test from start to finish. Atkinson had stage winning pace for much of the section, but lost seven seconds when he stalled at an especially tight corner. He finished the stage fifth fastest to hold fourth place overall. Petter Solberg was ninth fastest, while Xavier Pons was tenth and happy with his progress so far: "It's good. I'm feeling more comfortable in the car with every stage, and I can feel that my pace is improving all the time."
Fastest time: Hirvonen (Ford) 6m 47.4s

SS5: 1206HRS VELLIPOHJA 2 (17.20KM)

After a 30-minute service in Jyvaskyla, the crews returned to Vellipohja to run the stage for a second time. The surface had been swept of much of the loose gravel during the first pass, but softer sections had become badly rutted, which raised new challenges for the drivers. After a gearbox swap in Service B, Petter Solberg felt far more comfortable with his car and posted the fourth fastest time to jump up to fifth overall. Chris Atkinson was next quickest, with Xevi Pons tenth.
Fastest time: Gronholm (Ford) 8m 10.1s

SS6: 1302HRS MOKKIPERA 2 (13.72KM)

The second pass through Mokkipera brought another blistering performance from Petter and the Norwegian finished the stage a fraction of a second behind joint winners Marcus Gronholm and Mikko Hirvonen. Solberg still lay in fifth place overall, behind team-mate Atkinson, but he reported that his car's handling had been transformed at the midday service, and he was feeling much more confident. Atkinson too had a good stage and set the fifth fastest time, while another solid performance from Pons kept him ninth overall.
Fastest time: Gronholm (Ford) 6m 42.7s

SS7: 1341HRS PALSANKYLA 2 (13.31KM)

Rounding out Friday's second loop before returning for Service C, the teams attacked Palsankyla again with Petter Solberg continuing his greatly improved form. With the weather still dry and humidity lower than this morning, the conditions were favourable. Petter was third fastest, enthusing: "During Service B this morning the team made a big difference to the car. I am far happier with the car this afternoon". Chris Atkinson drove to another great fifth place while Xevi Pons put in another solid performance to come home ninth in stage.
Fastest time: Gronholm (Ford) 6m 36.1

SS8: 1621HRS URRIA (9.96KM)

After another 30-minute service crews headed 40km west of Jyvaskyla to the short Urria stage, which is famous for a massive jump near its midpoint. Fastest Subaru driver on the stage was Atkinson who reported an improved feeling in his Impreza WRC2007 after some more adjustments were made in service. Chris was fourth quickest, with Petter Solberg two seconds behind with the fifth fastest time. Xavier Pons had a lucky escape when his car went off the road near the finish line. His car lost most of its rear spoiler in the incident but he quickly rejoined the road and completed the section.
Fastest time: Gronholm (Ford) 4m 36.6

SS9: 1651HRS LAUTAPERA (8.70KM)

The brand new Lautapera offered an entirely new challenge for the drivers. Petter Solberg was the fastest of the SWRT drivers, finishing sixth on the stage but reporting mild oversteer as a result of a pre-stage setup adjustment. Chris Atkinson was momentarily caught out mid-way through with a medium-speed spin, but the car was undamaged and after recovering his split times were competitive. As a result, he recorded the 14th fastest time, with Xevi Pons' slotting into 15th fastest. Despite his spin, Chris held onto fourth overall.
Fastest time: Gronholm (Ford) 3m 56.7s

SS10: 1729HRS JUKOJARVI (22.25KM)

The final forest stage of Leg one was Jukojarvi, a typical high-speed gravel test, and true classic of Rally Finland. Atkinson and Petter Solberg were fourth and fifth fastest once again and consolidated their same positions overall. With only the Superspecial remaining on leg one the Subaru pair remained close to the top-three, with Atkinson trailing Loeb by just 26sec. Despite losing most of his car's rear spoiler on the previous stage, Pons still managed to bring his Impreza across the line in the 10th fastest time.
Fastest time: Gronholm (Ford) 10m 35.6s

SS11: 2000HRS SSS KILLERI 2 (2.06KM)

The drivers returned to the stage which started this year's Rally Finland, making the most of lessons learned yesterday evening. Rounding out leg one with the short head-to-head blast, it proved the most closely-run stage of the day amongst the SWRT drivers. Chris Atkinson clocked in at 1m 20.0s, Petter 1m 21.3s and Xevi Pons 1m 21.4s.
Fastest time: Gronholm (Ford) 1m 20.7s

Team quotes

SWRT managing director Richard Taylor

"Overall it's been an encouraging day for the team, and Chris and Petter have been able to show good pace. We had some technical problems with Petter's car this morning, but on the last two loops he has been going much better. We're pleased with the two points-scoring positions we have, and hope we can build on that in the next two legs. Xevi has driven a great day and has a good road position for tomorrow, and he should be able to improve on that position over the weekend".

CAR NUMBER 8

Chris Atkinson: "I'm happy with what we've achieved today. Fourth overall is a good place to be at the end of leg one here in Finland -- especially as I've only driven this rally three times before. I know there are still improvements to come with our car, but you can see from the speed we've had today that we're not very far away, which is encouraging. I'm feeling very positive about this event now, as for tomorrow we'll just have to see. We'll try our best, that's all I can say."

CAR NUMBER 7

Petter Solberg: "We ended the day 100 times better than we started it, that's for sure! Things turned around for us after the first service and since then we've been able to push a lot harder than earlier when it felt like we only had a two-wheel-drive car. Fifth overall is a good result considering the start we had, and I think there is still a lot of potential for improvement over the next two days."

CAR NUMBER 17

Xavier Pons: "I am really pleased with the way today has gone. The more time I spend in the car the more comfortable with it I become and the more speed I know I will find. For me, it is great to be a part of the Subaru World Rally Team and I am looking forward to the rest of the weekend."

Tomorrow's leg

Leg two starts at 0714hrs on Saturday with SS12 Kaipolanvuori, a 13.46km stage 60km south-west of Jyvaskyla. The leg comprises a further nine stages totalling 186km (competitive), and also plays host to the renowned Ouninpohja, this time with the addition of three chicanes to reduce average speed. In 2003, Petter Solberg and Phil Mills set the fastest ever time through the original Ouninpohja.

-credit: swrt

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About this article
Series WRC
Drivers Marcus Gronholm , Petter Solberg , Kristian Sohlberg , Jari-Matti Latvala , Mikko Hirvonen , Xavier Pons , Chris Atkinson , Richard Taylor