Rallye Deutschland: Subaru leg one summary

Weather: Friday began chilly, but sunny, with temperatures rising throughout the day, peaking at 22ºC by mid afternoon. Overnight rain led to slippery roads, but wet patches soon dried out as the sun shone. No rain fell during the ...

Friday began chilly, but sunny, with temperatures rising throughout the day, peaking at 22ºC by mid afternoon. Overnight rain led to slippery roads, but wet patches soon dried out as the sun shone. No rain fell during the day.

At the end of the first Leg of competition on Rallye Deutschland, Petter Solberg leads the Subaru challenge and holds fourth position overall. Solberg enjoyed a trouble-free run in his Impreza WRC2005, but despite his best efforts was unable to match the pace of Citroen's tarmac experts who dominated the day's action. Subaru's second points nominated driver, Stephane Sarrazin, set a string of top-10 stage times although his overall position was affected by a handbrake problem in the morning and a spin later in the day. On his first ever asphalt rally, Subaru's youngest driver, Chris Atkinson, controlled his pace carefully to gain experience of the specialist conditions.

Stage Reports

SS1: 0953hrs Ruwertal / Fell 1 (26.60km)
Leg one of Rallye Deutschland got underway in bright conditions on the Ruwertal/Fell stage, the longest stage of the day at 26.6km. The stage starts on a main road but quickly turns into the vineyards and a very fast downhill section using part of a hill climb track. The fast, narrow route then winds back out to the main road several more times over lots of tricky jumps. Road conditions were wet in places and as drivers cut corners, lots of mud and grape mulch was soon dragged onto the road, which resulted in several drivers spinning. Petter Solberg ran wide at one point in the stage, which lost him five to seven seconds, although caused no damage to the car. The two Citroen factory drivers set the early pace, with Loeb just ahead of Duval. Stephane Sarrazin led the Subaru charge, finishing sixth, 33.3sec behind Sebastien Loeb. Solberg recorded seventh, 1.9sec behind Sarrazin, with Chris Atkinson 17th, after reporting a turbo boost problem.Fastest Stage Time: Loeb (Citroen) 15:37.5

SS2: 1051hrs Dhrontal 1 (12.61km)
With temperatures rising throughout the morning, drivers made their way to the second test of Leg one, Dhrontal, the shortest stage of the rally. Like SS1 it starts on a main road before diving onto the vineyards almost immediately. A very fast stage, especially the twisty final section, with a sequence of hairpin bends close to the line. Most of the corners can be cut, again ensuring a mud-covered, slippery road. Loeb and Duval were once more fastest, just over eight seconds ahead of Peugeot's Marcus Gronholm. Solberg was fifth fastest through the stage, with a time of 8:07min, with team mate Sarrazin sixth, 1.2sec behind. Unable to make repairs between the stages, Atkinson's turbo boost problem continued. The setback lost him more time to the leaders and the Australian recorded a time of 8:41.2 to leave him 18th overall.Fastest Stage Time: Loeb (Citroen) 7:50.3

SS3 1149hrs Schönes Moselland 1 (20.48km)
A classic German stage, through the Piesport vineyard overlooking the river Mosel. Thousands of spectators lined the route to see the first leader change of the day, as Duval set the fastest stage time to snatch the lead from his team mate Loeb. Several drivers experienced problems, including Manfred Stohl, who ran wide right into the vineyards after his throttle stuck open and he retired from the Leg. Roman Kresta picked up a puncture early on in the stage, while Skoda's tarmac specialist Alex Bengue spun off close to the finish line and was unable to rejoin the road. Ford's Markko Martin lost time when a collision with a wall caused a puncture. The Estonian pushed on and finished the stage with no tyre on the wheel. Solberg set the fourth fastest time behind the Citroen duo and Gronholm, and moved up to fourth overall. Sarrazin had a challenging stage after the handbrake mechanism in his car broke, and he had difficulty negotiating the tight hairpins. With more than 11 in the 20 kilometre stage, Sarrazin was forced to stop on several occasions and reverse in order to make the turn. He went on to record a time of 12:57mins, dropping him to 11th in the overall standings. Atkinson set the 15th fastest time to move to 16th overall. After the stage, crews returned to the service park at Bostalsee for a 30 minute service.Fastest Stage Time: Duval (Citroen) 11:48.6

SS4 1457hrs Ruwertal/Fell 2 (26.6km)
In the first of the stages to be re-run after service, Loeb was the fastest driver, just under 25 seconds quicker than his earlier time through the 26km route from Ruwertal. With the sun staying out and temperatures rising, the road was much drier, giving quicker times for the majority of crews. Duval finished ten seconds behind team mate Loeb after stalling his car on the start line, but 9.4sec ahead of third-placed Gronholm, and the lead changed back to Loeb. Solberg had a clear run to set seventh fastest time in his Impreza WRC2005 and extend the gap back to Kresta in fifth place overall, as the Czech had another excursion to the vineyards. The handbrake mechanism of his car fixed at the preceding service, Sarrazin put in a quick time to move up the leaderboard to 10th overall. Subaru technicians also repaired the boost pack on Atkinson's car, and despite a stall in a tight hairpin, he finished 16th quickest.Fastest Stage Time: Loeb (Citroen) 15:13.5

SS5 1555hrs Dhrontal 2 (12.61km)
The re-run of the short Dhrontal stage proved problematic for Subaru driver Stephane Sarrazin as the Frenchman's car ran wide at the first corner, spun off the road and became stuck. Although the car suffered no mechanical damage, it remained stranded for two minutes until enough spectators arrived to push his Impreza back onto the road. Ford's Toni Gardemeister snatched fifth place from team mate Kresta and closed the gap to Solberg to 8.4sec. At the head of the field, Loeb extended his lead over Duval by 3.6sec to 11.3sec.Fastest Stage Time: Loeb (Citroen) 7:38.5

SS6 1653hrs Schönes Moselland 2 (20.48km)
Citroen's Loeb finished the day as he started - at the top of the leaderboard. The Frenchman went through the junctions and blind crests of the final stage of the day in 11:39.1min to extend his lead over Duval to 11.7sec. Gronholm finished best of the rest in third, with Subaru's Solberg fourth. After his excursion in SS5, Sarrazin recorded the eighth fastest time and will start leg two in 14th place overall, just ahead of team mate Atkinson.Fastest Stage Time: Loeb (Citroen) 11:39.1

Team Quotes

Subaru World Rally Team Principal, David Lapworth
It's frustrating that Petter is happy with the car and its balance, and has had a clean run and yet we are fighting for fourth rather than the lead. At the moment we do not have an answer for the pace of the Citroens so we're going to be pushing to ensure Petter wins the battle with Markko's Peugeot and Toni in the Ford. Stephane has had a bittersweet day having done some encouraging stage and split times, but then losing time with a handbrake problem on SS3 and a small off later in the day. At least we can look forward to some better times running at the head of the field tomorrow. Chris has certainly learnt a lot during his first-ever day of asphalt rallying and realistically his pace today is what we would have expected. It will be interesting to watch him improve throughout the weekend.

Petter Solberg There have been no major problems today and I've had a good, smooth drive. The car has been good and I think we made the right tyre choices. We're not planning on making many big changes for tomorrow as the balance feels about right. It's a little frustrating that we cannot be further ahead, but I'm really trying.

Stephane Sarrazin
Media Bulletin - Rallye Deutschland Leg 1 I was very happy with my speed today but we then had the problem with the handbrake and then this afternoon lost a lot of time when I got stuck on a bank. I wasn't really going too fast, but there was a lot of dirt and gravel on the road then I made a small mistake, spinning and ending up stuck. Thanks to the spectators I got back on and there was no problem with the car so I could continue. The tyres were good today and I'm happy with my choices. The pace was good and I think I have a good car so am looking forward to being back tomorrow.

Chris Atkinson
Media Bulletin - Rallye Deutschland Leg 1 Today we did what we had to do. It's my first tarmac rally and after so few kilometres in the car on this surface, I didn't know what to expect. We ran at a safe pace to get the experience of the rally and while I know I could run quicker, I don't think we need to go out and do that on our first event!

News From Pirelli

Paul Hembery, Pirelli Motorsport Director:
"It's clear that the Citroens are in a class of their own here if you look at the extent of their lead and their track record. However, leaving them aside, we are able to fight for the top places ahead of our other competitors. This proves the effectiveness of our tyres on dry asphalt, which I'm very pleased about."


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About this article
Series WRC
Drivers Stéphane Sarrazin , Marcus Gronholm , Petter Solberg , Manfred Stohl , Toni Gardemeister , Roman Kresta , Alex Bengue , Chris Atkinson , Markko Martin
Teams Citroën World Rally Team