SS15: Solberg fights back

With a stage win

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By www.wrc.com

21 January 2012 - 17:03
SS15: Solberg fights back

Petter Solberg has hit back in the battle for third place on Rallye Monte-Caro by setting the fastest time on Saturday’s second stage.

The Ford driver was coming under pressure from Citroen’s Mikko Hirvonen prior to the run. He took 12m57.0s to complete the stage, 8.4s faster than Hirvonen, to pull 30.5s clear of his rival.

“I’m just trying to keep my third place for Ford, that’s the main thing for me,” Solberg told World Rally Radio. “We have to be realistic. I lost a couple of seconds with a mistake close to the finish. The car is working very well I must say, I feel very comfortable.”

Hirvonen said he lost confidence on the damp sections of the stage, adding: “Petter pushed hard, I was not so confident on the damp and took it a bit steady. That’s not so good for the podium but I didn’t want to take any chances. It’s going to be tough for the podium now.”

Sebastien Loeb was equal on time with Hirvonen and now leads the World Rally Championship qualifier by an impressive margin of 2m20.7s in his factory Citroen.

“There was some humidity in some places but no problem,” said Loeb. “The goal is not the same when you are fighting, you try to brake not too late, not as late as possible.”

Spain’s Dani Sordo was fourth quickest on the stage and remains second overall for the MINI WRC Team. However, he was at a loss to explain why he couldn’t go faster after completing the stage in a time 12.5s slower than Solberg managed. As a result his advantage over the third-placed Norwegian has been trimmed to 39.9s.

Francois Delecour was fifth quickest through the stage despite a powersteering problem hampering him behind the wheel of his M-Sport Ford Fiesta.

Bryan Bouffier, in a Super 2000-specification Peugeot 207, was a sensational seventh fastest. The French driver won Rallye Monte-Carlo last season when it ran outside of the World Rally Championship schedule.

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