SS13: Solberg continues to charge
Former world champion fighting back in Portugal
Petter Solberg is continuing to set the pace on day three of Vodafone Rally de Portugal. Driving a Ford Fiesta RS WRC, Solberg was 9.1s quicker than the MINI John Cooper Works WRC of Dani Sordo.
“It’s very difficult in the mud and the braking but it’s been a good morning, the set-up worked for the two last stages,” said Solberg.
Sordo said: “I try to keep the tyres well but it was difficult because there were places where it was more abrasive in this stage. But I’m really happy with the speed.”
In the battle for the overall lead, Mads Ostberg lost ground to first-placed Mikko Hirvonen when an engine problem developed in his Adapta Fiesta after approximately 10 kilometres.
“We gained quite a lot in the beginning but we have an engine problem and the car dropped onto three cylinders,” said Ostberg. “I had to use a lot of revs to stop it from happening but we struggled too much.”
Ostberg was seventh quickest, 32.0s slower than Solberg, and trails Citroen pilot Hirvonen by 47.3s in the overall standings heading to the midday service halt in Faro.
Evgeny Novikov completed the stage with his Fiesta’s rear protection guard dragging on the road. The Russian said the misfire that had developed on the previous stage continued to affect his ultimate pace.
Jari-Matti Latvala admitted to slowing down nearing the stage finish after his rear tyres began to lose grip. He was third quickest in his Ford Fiesta RS WRC.
Thierry Neuville, who is opening the stage in his Citroen, said: “It was much better, I was much more confident. I was understeering too much on the last two stages. I tried to slide the car a little more in this one. It felt better.”
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