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Solberg won’t call time on title dream

"I know how quickly things can change in rallying"

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By www.wrc.com

28 March 2011 - 14:21
Solberg won’t call time on title (...)

Petter Solberg has told Wrc.com that he refuses to give up on his dream of winning a second world crown after losing out on a possible victory for the third event in succession.

Solberg, who claimed world title glory in 2003, was closing on the lead of Vodafone Rally de Portugal after winning the opening stage on Friday. However, a spate of punctures ultimately forced him to retire on the day’s final stage.

He restarted under SupeRally regulations on day two and fought his way back up to sixth overall at the finish in Faro yesterday afternoon after winning six of the rally’s 16 gravel stages.

But having also failed to secure podium finishes in Sweden and Mexico earlier this season, the Norwegian is fifth in the championship standings, 27 points adrift of Mikko Hirvonen and Sebastien Loeb. The 36-year-old says he must win soon in order to boost his fading title ambitions.

“I’ve calculated this and basically 27 points is one rally if I win and somebody retires but somebody needs to retire,” said Solberg. “Sebastien and Mikko and these guys are lucky you know because they have their problems but stay in the fight but I have these punctures.”

Solberg, whose Citroen DS3 WRC is run by his eponymous Petter Solberg World Rally Team operation, said he is concerned that potential sponsors could decide against backing him if he is no longer in a position to challenge for the title.

“What I am a little bit afraid of, because I have the sponsors to think about, is when you are too far away from the podium you don’t get that promotion that you need,” said Solberg. “I’ve no worries [with my current sponsors] but what happens in the future I don’t know. I have to get close and it would be nice if one of the others retired soon.”

Asked if he would contemplate abandoning his title assault if results don’t pick up, Solberg was adamant that would never be the case. “I’ll never give up,” he said. “I know how quickly things can change in rallying. The problem is my speed on the last three rallies doesn’t fit with the results I’ve been getting.”

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