Hamilton, November 17.
Subaru’s works drivers have been struggling in the opening stages of the 2006 Propecia rally of New Zealand.
After two special stages, team leader and former world champion Petter Solberg ran fifth, one minute 19.9seconds off rally leader Marcus Gronholm (Ford Focus RS) after the first two stages in the western Waikato region.
His teammate Chris Atkinson ran 10th after the first two, and was 3m 12s behind Gronholm.
The Subaru drivers said they’d made a wrong tyre choice, and that the car set-up wasn’t right. They had been happy with the set-up after yesterday morning’s shakedown at Mystery Creek.
Conditions on the stages, especially in the hilly sections, were unexpectedly slippery.
“No grip, the car is not going well,” Solberg said after SS2. “I am not happy…I don’t know what the problem is. I just can’t do anything about it.
Atkinson said he had lost a lot of time taking it easy. “I’ve got no grip and no traction,” he said. “(It’s very disappointing. We hope to fix it in service (after SS3) and make changes.”
He’d spun the Impreza WRC 2006 is SS1, near Pirongia, but said he had been unable to push hard anyway. “I have no grip.”