This afternoon Petter Solberg kick-started his campaign for the 2006 drivers' title by finishing second on Rally Mexico and collecting his first championship points of the season. Solberg blazed through the final three stages of the rally and set...
This afternoon Petter Solberg kick-started his campaign for the 2006 drivers' title by finishing second on Rally Mexico and collecting his first championship points of the season. Solberg blazed through the final three stages of the rally and set the fastest time on the penultimate test, clearly demonstrating the rally winning potential of the new Subaru Impreza WRC2006. Chris Atkinson secured a double points finish for the team. The Australian started the Leg in tenth position, moved up three places in the first stage and maintained the position until the finish.
SS15: 0828 Leon (37.99km)
After a 10 minute service, Leg three started with the longest stage of
the rally at nearly 38km. Many crews reported massively reduced
visibility as dust kicked up by the first cars hung in the still mountain
air. To allow the dust to settle, Henning Solberg, running sixth on the
road, started one minute late. Many crews reported overheating brakes
especially on a long, steep downhill section near the midpoint. Matthew
Wilson, who had restarted under Superally regulations following his Leg
two retirement, reported a misfire just before the start and reduced
power in the uphill section. He finished 1min 15secs slower than stage
winner, Sebastien Loeb. Petter Solberg held position in second overall
while his team-mate Chris Atkinson moved up three places into seventh.
Marcus Gronholm moved up to ninth, 21secs off eighth.
Fastest Time: Loeb (Citroen) 25:32.1
SS16: 1011 Silao (18.01km)
The Silao stage, south east of host city Leon, started on a gently
undulating rocky surface and took crews through open scenery to the town
of La Estancia. The route used part of SS10 and was lined with deep
roadside drainage channels. Petter Solberg scored the stage win, 0.3secs
faster than Gronholm. Rally leader Loeb was third fastest but his lead
was reduced by just one second. Dani Sordo was fourth fastest to
consolidate his fourth overall position, ahead of a resurgent Hirvonen
who had restarted after an accident on Leg two. Chris Atkinson recorded
the sixth fastest time, but reported inconsistent steering through the
final part of the stage.
Fastest Time: Solberg (Subaru) 10:20.8
SS17: 1126 Nextel Superspecial (4.42km)
The 2006 Rally Mexico concluded with the third and final run through the
Superspecial on the outskirts of host city Leon. Crowds of spectators
were thrilled as cars powered through the watersplash and over jumps.
Manfred Stohl won the stage to clinch third overall, while Petter Solberg
was second fastest to secure second overall and his first points of the
season. Loeb set the joint third fastest time to secure his first win of
the year. Dani Sordo, Henning Solberg and Gareth Machale rounded off the
top six while Chris Atkinson held onto seventh position. Marcus Gronholm
picked up the final point in eighth.
Fastest Time: Stohl (Peugeot) 3:17.0
SWRT SPORTING DIRECTOR, LUIS MOYA: "We came here looking for victory but the way the rally ran we must be satisfied with the positions of both Petter and Chris. Petter did a very good job this weekend and eight points moves him a step closer to his championship goal. We are happy to see that the performance of the car on gravel is good. We should not forget that most of the championship is contested on this surface. After the disappointment on the first day, Chris used the rally to learn more about the conditions and we have been impressed by his pace and consistency."
PETTER SOLBERG: "I am very, very happy with the result of this rally. Of course we set out to win but when that wasn't possible we kept pushing for second. I went flat out on Leg one to get a gap and it was unlucky to pick up the problem on the second day, but I tried hard to keep the time loss to a minimum. It was always going to be difficult to make up the time, but the car was very fast with everything working well. We showed that there is definitely more to come. It's good to finally get some points and now I want more. It will be close and I'm going to give it everything."
CHRIS ATKINSON: "The rally has been pretty good for us. Of course it's unfortunate that we hit the rock and then had the problem after that, otherwise I think we could have made the podium. We proved that the pace is right, it's just unfortunate we weren't able to translate it into a better result. It's a tough sport. It's some consolation that we got seventh overall and some useful points for me and for Subaru. We can take plenty of positives from this rally."
NEWS FROM PIRELLI
MARIO ISOLA, PIRELLI COMPETIZIONI RALLY MANAGER: "I'm extremely happy with the result. The result demonstrates how good the partnership is between Subaru and Pirelli. We used the new K2 Evo for the most of the rally, a compound both Petter and Chris liked in our last test in Sardinia. This means that we did a good job in our development tests and our work is producing encouraging results. The double points finish will be useful to the manufacturers' championship."
THE NEXT EVENT
Less than five months after its last visit to the country, the WRC returns to Spain for the fourth round of the championship, Rallye de Catalunya. The first sealed surface event of the season takes place in the Tarragona region of southern Spain and is the quickest asphalt rally on the calendar. Run in the mountains around Salou, with a service park in the Port Aventura theme park, this is the closest that rallying gets to circuit racing, with wide, flowing stages, high-speed corners and smooth asphalt.