Petter Solberg and the new Subaru Impreza WRC2005 won Rally Mexico by a margin of 34.5 seconds today. Having led the event from start to finish, the Norwegian took six stage wins to claim his second WRC victory of the year and the 12th of his ...
Petter Solberg and the new Subaru Impreza WRC2005 won Rally Mexico by a margin of 34.5 seconds today. Having led the event from start to finish, the Norwegian took six stage wins to claim his second WRC victory of the year and the 12th of his career. Claiming ten points in both the Drivers' and Manufacturers' Championships, Petter and co-driver Phi Mills now lead the Drivers' standings. Their success also marked Subaru's 46th WRC victory, the 45th with the Impreza and was the perfect result for the debut of the new Subaru Impreza WRC2005. Competing for the first time as a nominated driver for the Subaru team and for only the second time in a WRC car, his team-mate Chris Atkinson delivered another impressive performance. The young Australian set some encouraging split times before retiring with a technical problem on the final stage.
SS13: 0917 Comanjilla - Chichimequillas (18.26km)
Approximately 60 per cent of the stages included in Leg three had been used as part of Leg one and two, and so featured a very hard gravel base. The remaining 40 per cent presented loose gravel on the road surface, which the front-runners 'swept' clean for those further down the order. Running second on the road, Chris Atkinson was eighth fastest through the 18km stage. His team-mate and the current event leader Petter Solberg was third fastest aboard the new Subaru Impreza WRC2005 and finished 4.4 seconds ahead of closest rival Marcus Gronholm. The Finn, who was using a different specification of brake discs on his Peugeot for the final day, was fifth fastest and, at the finish, 34 seconds separated the pair with 44km remaining. Harri Rovanpera, Toni Gardemeister and Sebastien Loeb resumed their battle for overall fourth, but Harri had the edge, despite his Lancer suffering overheating brakes. Peaking at 2,200 metres above sea level, the stage featured wide, undulating roads through open plains and included a jump in the final 2km. After crews had finished the stage, they drove 30km for a refuel, before continuing to the start of SS14. Fastest Stage Time: Loeb (Citroen) 10:08.8
SS14: 1025 Alfaro - El Establo (44.39km)
A mammoth 44km long, the final stage of the event was by far the longest and meant that crews could not afford to relax their pace for a second. Starting at an altitude of 1,995 metres above sea level, the stage featured a twisty ascent over hard-packed gravel to its highest point, which was 2,626 metres above sea level. It then went through open, flowing plains, which offered excellent vantage points for the thousands of fans that lined the roadside, before concluding with a tight, twisty section through the village of Canada de Ochoa. Keeping his nerve, Petter Solberg delivered a perfectly measured drive aboard his Subaru Impreza WRC2005 to maintain his overall lead and win Rally Mexico by a margin of 34.5 seconds. Having dominated the event from the outset, his success marked his second WRC victory of 2005 in only three rounds and concluded an excellent debut for the new Subaru Impreza WRC2005. Gronholm was fifth fastest to finish second overall, while Martin was sixth fastest to take the final podium position. Loeb stormed through the stage to take the win and snatch overall fourth from Rovanpera by 7 seconds. After making a promising start to the stage and setting some competitive splits, there was disappointment for Subaru driver Chris Atkinson. He stopped just 2km from the finish, when damage sustained on Leg two meant his Impreza lost oil pressure and he was unable to continue. Duval then also retired his Xsara on the road section back to service due to engine problems. However, as he had not been in a points-scoring position, his exit made no change to the final points-scoring leaderboard. Fastest Stage Time: Loeb (Citroen) 28:29.1
It's incredible, I'm just so happy! To get a win with the old car in Sweden and another with the new one here is a great feeling - for sure there's still more to come from this car but I'm very happy with the progress we've made already. It's also very special to be able to win here for Mr Kuze. Without him, none of this would be possible, and I'm pleased to be able to dedicate this win to him. At the end of the day this result is all about teamwork, and I'm lucky to have such a great group of people behind me, from Phil in the car to everyone else at Subaru, I can't thank them enough. The Championship is getting pretty close now, there's some very close competition and I reckon this year will turn out to be one of the greatest battles we've ever seen in the WRC.
Obviously I'm a bit disappointed not to finish, but I think I've learned so much this weekend it's almost irrelevant. The speed has been encouraging; especially as I wasn't pushing so much that we went off the road all the time. The new car feels great, and there's definitely more pace in it yet. In New Zealand I'm going to be looking to get some good experience of the stages and hopefully a useful finish position too.
Team Principal, David Lapworth
A fantastic performance from Petter and a great result for the team. Introducing a new car is always a bit of a nervous time, but today's result is a fitting reward for all the hard work that the team has put in. Of course it's difficult to cover everything in testing, but I was pretty confident that the new base car was very good. Now, thanks to the excellent relationship between Petter and Pierre (Genon, chief engineer) we're making some encouraging progress with the set-up and fine-tuning, which looks good ahead of the forthcoming gravel rallies. Chris too did a great job this weekend. He's definitely got the potential to be a future star, but to get there he needs to be given time to learn and develop as a driver. At this stage in his career overall results are of no consequence, we're very pleased with the progress he's made. Like Petter, I know Mr Kuze would have appreciated today's result. He was with the team at its formation back in 1989, for our first WRC win in 1993, all our Championship wins, right through to our 45th victory in Sweden last month. He will be sadly missed.
News from Pirelli
Fiore Brivio, Pirelli Tyres Rally Manager
Petter's use of the XR3 tyre on the opening day was instrumental in helping him to this well deserved victory. This tyre was traditionally used for rough gravel events, but has now been developed to be equally effective on medium to fast gravel. The KP2 tyre was used most often on this rally and the fact that we have five cars in the top eight is the best testimony to it's performance.
Rally New Zealand: 8-10 April 2005
Round four of the FIA World Rally Championship starts in four week's time when teams will cross the globe for the start of Rally New Zealand. Based in Auckland, the event is a popular one with the drivers who revel in the fast and flowing 'roller coaster' roads, with their heavily banked cambers and rapid direction changes. It's an event that requires strong levels of commitment and natural car control. Starting on 8 April, the three-day event will conclude when the winning car crosses the finish ramp on Sunday 10 April in Auckland.