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Solberg plans to attack Hirvonen’s lead


Subaru’s team leader sets his sights on catching and overtaking his Ford rival for third place in Rally Portugal.

April 1, 2007, 8.30pm. Former world rally champion Petter Solberg heads into the final day of the Rally of Portugal with one aim: catch Ford’s young gun Mikko Hirvonen and pass him for third place.

“The gap is just 13 seconds,” Solberg said after bringing his Subaru Impreza WRC 2007 into the final Leg 2 control in fourth place.

“The way the car feels now I think that could be possible. We’ll wait and see, but I will push as hard as I can.”

Leg 2, apart from SS10 “when my pacenotes weren’t so good…hasn’t been bad at all,” Solberg said.

“On these roads it’s been very difficult to keep the tyres in good condition for the groups of stages, and I had to back off a bit here and there, but it’s the same for everybody.

“The car has run perfectly, and the set-up has improved steadily throughout the day.

“This morning it was a little bit too soft, and the balance wasn’t very good, but we made a few chassis changes later on and got a much better feeling on the last two stages.”

For Solberg’s teammate Australian, Chris Atkinson, it was a weekend to forget.

He crashed during Leg 2, putting him out of the rally.

"It’s a great shame because I thought this rally would suit my driving style and the car.

“This morning I struggled with the handling a bit, we had some balance and understeer problems and I was struggling to get the car turned in properly – especially on such slippery roads.

“We started (SS10) pretty well but in hindsight I was thinking too much about the feeling, and not concentrating on the road.

“I missed a corner note, got on the wrong line and just went straight off.”

Citroen’s Sebastien Loeb leads the rally by a commanding 40 seconds from Ford works driver Marcus Gronholm.

Photo caption: a lapse of concentration saw Chris Atkinson crash out of the Portuguese Rally.

Top 10 placings at the end of Leg 2.

1. Sebastien Loeb, Citroen C4 WRC, 3h 00m 25.5s.
2. Marcus Gronholm, Ford Focus RS WRC 2006, 40.5s behind.
3. Mikko Hirvonen, Ford Focus RS WRC 2006, 1m 57.3s behind.
4. Petter Solberg, Subaru Impreza WRC 2007, 2m 10.3s behind.
5. Danni Sordo, Citroen C4 WRC, 3m 59.4s behind.
6. Jarri-Matti Latvala, Ford Focus RS WRC 2006, 4m 50.2s behind.
7. Henning Solberg, Ford Focus RS WRC 2006, 6m 49.0s behind.
8. Daniel Carlsson, Citroen Xsara WRC, 6m 55.6s behind.
9. Gianni Galli, Citroen Xsara WRC, 8m 12.8s behind.
10. Manfred Stohl, Citroen Xsara WRC, 11m 20.6s behind.



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