Former world champion, Petter Solberg, was pleased with his sixth place finish in his home event, Rally Norway, but says he won’t be happy to settle for sixth in his next WRC event in Cyprus
Solberg, out of a job after Subaru’s withdrawal from the World Rally Championship, has formed his own team, running a three-year-old Citroen Xsara WRC.
He debuted the car in Norway and came away with three points in the 2009 world drivers’ championship.
“I am very happy about the sixth place,” he said. “I mean, four weeks ago I had no car and no team, and look at us now.
“I am so proud of everybody in the team that has been working flat-out for the past weeks, and also my friends and family. Without them none of this would be possible.”
Solberg won the event’s first special stage, cheered on by his home crowd. But a bad judgement call on day two cost him dearly.
“I took only one spare tyre with me in the car, just to save some weight. Not a very good decision, changing only one tyre caused me problems with the grip due to unbalance – my decision and my fault.”
He stopped in one stage on day two to allow the overheating engine to cool down. Co-driver, Phil Mills, had to get out the car and remove a piece of kevlar that was blocking the air intake.
“(The rally’s) two final stages turned out to be quite exciting due to a damaged clutch,” Solberg said. “Honestly, I didn’t really think we would make it to the finish, but we did and we also managed to keep our sixth place.
“I think we did a good job this weekend. We were really fast on some splits, and (the opposition) are driving cars that should go much faster.
“Now we have to do some evaluation and make some plans for the next rallies. Cyprus (rocky gravel in place of Norway’s snow and minus 30 degree temperatures) will be quite a challenge, and I will not settle for sixth.”
And who won in Norway? Who else? Sebastien Loeb has won the opening two rounds of the 2009 WRC in his works Citroen C4 WRC and is one event shy of his 50th world championship rally win.
Results of Rally Norway 2009
1. Sebastien Loeb, Citroen.
2. Mikko Hirvonen, Ford, +9.8 seconds.
3. Jari Matti Latvala, Ford, +1m.21.8s.
4. Henning Solberg, Ford, +3m 33.5s.
5. Dani Sordo, Citroen, +3m 52s,
6. Petter Solberg, Citroen, +6m 25.4s.