Petter Solberg and Co-Driver Chris Patterson started the 10th Round of the FIA World Rally Championship in Alsace, France fresh off a 3rd place podium finish in Wales that concluded with an epic battle between he and Sebastian Loeb on the last day and half of the event.
Unfortunately their good feelings from Wales would not continue very deep in to Rally de France.
The duo started well with a 3rd fastest time on Thursday night on SS1, but after an unsuccesful tire choice for Friday morning, Petter and Chris found themselves sitting in 6th at the midday service following a struggle with the damp and dirty run of stages during the first half of the day.
With some good changes performed by his Ford engineering team, Petter was ready to claw back some time for the 2nd loop of stages on Day1. With three 2nd fastest stage times, the duo found themselves just 0.70 off of Mikko Hirvonen for 3rd place over night with a great day shaping up for Saturday.
“The afternoon was much better,” said Solberg. “Once I had the right feeling then my pace was at the same level as Jari-Matti. It’s a shame that I lost time in the first two stages. Tomorrow I will keep pushing to try to reach the podium and if I can keep the same rhythm as I had this afternoon then that’s achievable.”
And so came Day2 in France.. Solberg started in fourth and was fastest in the opening split of the morning’s first stage. However, after overheating the entry to a fast left he exited the road, his Fiesta RS WRC ploughing through dense vines before hitting a telegraph pole. The impact damaged the steering and suspension at the front right of his car. Nobody was injured in the incident but the impact damaged the front right of Solberg’s Fiesta RS WRC too severely to continue until Day 3 under Rally2 rules. Since the accident and retirement came on the 1st leg of the day, Petter would be hit with penalties for each stage he did not participate in. This resulted in 40mins being tacked on to his over all time.
“I had a clean run from the start of the stage but went off the road at a fast left corner and into the vines,” explained the 37-year-old Norwegian. “I kept my foot on the throttle because I knew the road was coming up again, but I didn’t know exactly where or when. The windscreen was covered with leaves so I couldn’t see properly and the road came up sooner than I thought. “
“The car went straight across the stage and into the vines on the other side of the road. I eventually hit a telegraph pole. It was a big hit but I didn’t immediately realize the pole had fallen down. It was only later that I knew it toppled over. I’m disappointed because I had a clean rally up to that point and I was confident of getting third,” he added.
With the 40 minute penalty added, the 37-year-old Norwegian eased through Sunday’s final leg, comprising six stages and 61.54km north of Strasbourg.
“I had nothing to gain to close the rally so I drove for the fans as much as anything. Conditions were difficult and I knew it would be hard to score bonus points in the Power Stage because I started down the order. There was so much mud on the road. “
Petter and Chris finished 27th in their Fiesta RS WRC after all was said and done.
The teams next fight begins at Rally de Italia Sardegna in just 11days from now on the 18th of October. Thank you all for your support.
- Petter Solberg third despite puncture on day 2 in Rallye de France
- Petter Solberg WRT- Rallye de France 2010 – Day 1
- Petter Solberg after day 1 in Rallye de France 2011
- Petter Solberg – Rallye de France Alsace 2011
- Petter Solberg – Rallye de France Day 3
- Petter Solberg and Chris Patterson wraps up Saturday with two stage wins
- Petter Solberg’s Crash – 2012 WRC Rallye de France
- Petter Solberg WRT with two cars in Rallye de France 2010
- Petter Solberg testing for Rallye de France Alsace 2012
- Jari-Matti Latvala shows firm resolve to retain second at Rallye de France