SS17: Solberg takes fourth
Ford driver demotes Al-Attiyah in Portugal
Petter Solberg has reclaimed fourth place on Vodafone Rally de Portugal after going faster than Nasser Al-Attiyah through Sunday’s opening stage.
Driving a Ford Fiesta RS WRC, Solberg is now more than 20 seconds in front of the Qatar World Rally Team ace in the overall classification.
“It was a good stage, very muddy in places,” said the Norwegian. “There were no risks, there’s a long stage next. The tyres should be good for the next stage. I’ve got two new ones on the front and two worn ones on the back. I’ve got two spares.”
Al-Attityah is on course for a career-best fifth in his Citroen DS3 WRC. He said: “I’m happy with what I’ve done, but I need to finish the rally with no risks. The hard tyres weren’t right for this stage, but they’ll be good for the next.”
Factory Citroen pilot Mikko Hirvonen was sixth fastest to his extend his lead on round four of the FIA World Rally Championship powered by Nokia to 1m14.7s.
Dani Sordo said he lost time when his Prodrive MINI John Cooper Works WRC developed a handbrake glitch. “It was always braking at the front and I lost some time at the hairpins. It was a little bit humid in that stage.”
Team-mate Patrik Sandell is back in action following his exit from fourth position on Saturday when he broke his Prodrive-run MINI’s suspension striking a tree. He said: “I was on hard tyres all around and it was quite slippery all the way through but no dramas.”
Running at the head of the field on the final day in Portugal, Jari-Matti Latvala opted to use worn soft compound tyres on his Fiesta to cope with the damp conditions. He was fastest through the stage by a margin of 19.6s. “It’s damp at the moment with some slippery places,” said the Finn. “The long one can be tricky in places under the trees. I made some mistakes, some hesitations but otherwise it was okay.”
Ott Tanak said he was too cautious in his M-Sport Fiesta, while Daniel Oliveira was satisfied with his time but has vowed not to make any mistakes in his efforts to score manufacturers’ championship points for the Brazil World Rally Team.
More on WRC