In Petter Solberg's latest exclusive column on Crash.net, the Ford World Rally Team man looks back on Rally Finland, where he had to settle for fourth...
I think it is fair to say we all hoped for a bit more in Finland, but basically I was very happy with my driving and performance and from that point of view it was a good event. Jari-Matti [Latvala – my team-mate] and I were at exactly the same speed pretty much throughout in our Ford Fiesta RS WRC cars, except for when Chris [Patterson – my co-driver] and I tried to do something more with the car on the final morning and we lost a little bit of time. But when we put the set up back again in the afternoon, we were straight on the pace. All-in-all we did everything we could, it was just disappointing we were not a bit closer to the Citroëns.
It was not a big gap. But when it is so close, as it is this year, every small detail makes a difference. We have been in front most of the year [in terms of speed], however, in Finland they seemed to be a tiny bit in front of us.
Of course Jari-Matti and I could have perhaps pushed a little bit more. But then the risk factor would have been big and we have seen on other rallies we have made mistakes when we have done that. So, this time we pushed, but we were not crazy over the limit.
It was frustrating not to be able to fight a bit more, but what can you do?
Still it was pleasing that we didn't have any problems and I didn't make any mistakes either. We obviously tried a different set-up on the Saturday morning, as already mentioned, looking for something 'magic' to try and make the car faster and I lost some time to Jari-Matti. But that was basically the only 'issue' we had throughout the three-days and even that wasn't really an issue.
Again it was – as ever – a very enjoyable event. Rally Finland really is fantastic and is easily one of the best events in the championship. There is good promotion for it, good marketing and lots and lots of people turn out. It has a very good structure.
I think the short format works quite well too. Stopping on the Saturday is a perfect idea, although it should probably finish a bit earlier on the final day so all the teams can go out together and have a good time. As it is they are working very, very late and that's a bit of a shame. But overall I like the format and it makes it a real sprint.
It was nice to finish with two runs through the classic Ouninpohja test too - the first time it has been run in full since 2007.
It was a bit disappointing to lose the record in there, as well as the Power Stage win, but obviously Mikko [Hirvonen] and Citroën were about half a second faster. That's the way it goes... It was about time my record was beaten though and the new one is only one second better than my record from 2004 too - so, it is not that much faster!
We head to Germany now and we will be testing before Rallye Deutschland. Hopefully we can make some small improvements. We have a good idea of what we are going to do and what we are going to test. We will focus on these areas and hopefully that should help.
It will be good to go there. We are ready. It is a rally I was pretty fast on last year and the year before - I love it. I didn't like it so much in the early days after what happened [when I had those crashes in 2002 and in 2004], but I have got through that and now it is a rally I enjoy.
Hopefully we will be properly on the pace and fighting for the victory again. We know Sébastien [Loeb] has been super strong there in the past, but we have to stop him and Citroën. We are all working very hard to do that over the remaining events and we just have to keep at it and work even harder. We will do our best to give him a really, really hard time in Trier.
Until next time, Petter Solberg
To keep tabs on the Ford World Rally Team's progress, simply follow this link: www.wrcford.com