Weather: Following a dry start, heavy rain showers fell intermittently throughout the day. Air temperatures started at 19C this morning, rising to 26C by mid-afternoon. Stages were damp, with some loose gravel Subaru Summary Feeling...
Weather: Following a dry start, heavy rain showers fell intermittently throughout the day. Air temperatures started at 19C this morning, rising to 26C by mid-afternoon. Stages were damp, with some loose gravel
Feeling 100 per cent better, 555 Subaru World Rally Team driver Petter Solberg put in a spirited performance at the wheel of his Subaru Impreza WRC 2003 and set a string of consistently good times to move up the overall leaderboard. He ended the event in eighth place, securing two Manufacturers' points for Subaru and another in the Drivers' championship.
SS17 0728hrs Schones Moselland 1 (15.29km)
Fastest time: McRae (Citroen) 9:03.6
As Sebastien Loeb and Marcus Gronholm resumed their battle for the overall lead, there were difficulties for Gronholm on the first run through the narrow Schones Moselland. Hitting a rock mid-test, the Finn sustained damage to his Peugeot's rear-suspension, which knocked the 206's steering out of alignment. Although he completed the stage, dropping only 7.4 seconds to event leader Loeb, with two more stages to run before the next service, it was likely he would lose more time before vital repair work could be carried out. Colin McRae took the stage win, with Loeb second and Richard Burns third. Contested in the picturesque Mosel wine region, the test included a series of hidden crests and junctions, before finishing with a climb through vineyard roads. After the finish, crews moved directly to the start of SS18.
SS18 0758hrs Moselwein 1 (16.55km)
Fastest time: McRae (Citroen) 10:04.5
While there was no sign of the forecast rain, there were more problems for some of the leading WRC crews on the smooth Moselwein test. Gronholm lost another 10 seconds as he battled with his damaged 206, while Markko Martin lost time when a transmission problem left his Ford with front wheel drive only. The incident cost the Estonian 12 seconds and overall third, which was snatched by Colin McRae. A good run for Subaru driver Petter Solberg. Despite over shooting a junction, the Norwegian finished fourth fastest, to move up to ninth overall, and end the test just 2.8 seconds behind Panizzi who was in overall eighth. With the Frenchman continuing to be dogged by both brake problems and a broken shock absorber, Solberg ended the test well poised to take the final point scoring position.
SS19 0916hrs St.Wenderler Land 1 (18.93km)
Fastest time: Sainz (Citroen) 9:52.6
Rapidly changing conditions on the 18.93km narrow St Wenderler section caused by intermittent rain showers shook up the overall leaderboard. Contesting the stage on slicks and running further down the order, Citroen drivers McRae and Loeb, were both caught in a torrential downpour and forced to slow. Finishing the test 25 seconds behind the leaders after also suffering a spin, McRae lost overall third, allowing Burns to take the potential podium position. With just 8.9 seconds separating the pair at the finish, it looked set to be a battle of the Brits in the final stages. Still hampered by their respective mechanical problems, Martin, Gronholm and Panizzi continued to lose time and would have been glad of the following scheduled service. Recording the highest average speed of the event so far (115kph), Sainz was fastest, while an excellent second fastest time by Solberg saw the Subaru star move up to eighth position overall and into the points.
SS20 1156hrs Schones Moselland 2 (15.29km)
Fastest time: Martin (Ford) 9:25.7
Despite picking up a 20 second penalty for leaving the preceding service two minutes late, Markko Martin put his earlier transmission problems behind him and stormed through the repeated rain soaked test to end's Citroen's monopoly of stage wins. His team-mate Duval finished second fastest with Loeb third. Burns was fourth and Solberg fifth. Not such a great stage for local hero Armin Schwarz. Lying in thirteenth place overall, the Hyundai driver struggled with a turbo problem and dropped over a minute. After the finish crews completed a 7.91km road section to the start of SS21.
SS21 1226hrs Moselwein 2 (16.55km)
Fastest time: Martin (Ford) 10:31.2
Another stage win for Martin on the event's penultimate test. The Estonian finished 2.3 seconds clear of the rest of the field, but it wasn't enough to catch McRae in the overall standings and at the finish he remained fifth overall. Loeb was second fastest to extend his lead to 13 seconds, while Gronholm was third to maintain second ahead of Burns. Suffering a spin on a hairpin and losing 12.9 seconds, Ford's Francois Duval conceded overall sixth place to Carlos Sainz, as the pair continued to trade the position between them. Demonstrating his return to form, Petter Solberg continued his spirited run and was fourth fastest. Czech driver Roman Kresta failed to even start the test due to a broken brake disc on his Bozian Racing prepared Peugeot 206.
SS22 1344hrs St.Wenderler Land 2 (19.93km)
Fastest time: Martin (Ford) 10:32.3
With just 13 seconds separating the top two drivers, the rally's final stage was a real nail biter. In the end Loeb held his nerve, and his position, to claim his second consecutive win at Rally Deutschland and third of this WRC career. Gronholm put up an explosive challenge and closed the gap to just 3.6 seconds, but had to settle for second. Burns was fifth fastest for the final podium position. Martin was fastest to take his tenth stage win of the event and secure overall fifth. McRae took fourth. Martin was later named Inmarsat's Star of the Rally.
David Lapworth, 555 Subaru World Rally Team Principal: "It's nice to see today that with Petter's improving health he was able to put in some very competitive times in both wet and dry conditions. Over the last couple of days, we've learnt a lot about tyres and set ups, which should put us in a good position for the future tarmac events this season."
Petter Solberg: "I'm back to 100 per cent now, but wish I'd been feeling like this on Friday! Nothing changed with the car, but on the first day I was feeling terrible and my form wasn't right. I'm a bit disappointed with myself, but that's just how it is sometimes. We've had a such positive day today though, the weather and our tyre choices have been just right, and we've been able to be far more competitive."
News from Pirelli
Fiore Brivio, Pirelli Tyres Rally Manager: "Today we've tried one of our latest development tyres for dry tarmac, the PZero RX tyre. Petter set good times, and set a consistently good pace. At the second service, Petter selected a full cut wet tyre, the PZero RE, due to the weather conditions. As a result of the performance of the driver, car and tyres, he managed to make up two places."
Round nine of the 2003 World Rally Championship starts in less than two weeks time, when teams travel to Finland. Regarded as the spiritual home of rallying, the classic gravel event features a series of high-speed stages through the forests surrounding the university town of Jyvaskyla. His home event, Tommi Makinen will be looking for a good result, having won the event five times previously. Starting from Jyvaskyla, Thursday 7 August, the event includes 23 stages and 403.34 competitive kilometres. The winning car is expected to cross the finish ramp at 1546hrs on 10 August.