28 June 2012
Ford World Rally Team's Petter Solberg looks back on Rally New Zealand, the seventh round in the 2012 FIA World Rally Championship, in his latest exclusive column for Crash.net.
In Petter Solberg's latest exclusive column on Crash.net, the Ford World Rally Team man looks back on Rally New Zealand, where he took his fourth podium finish of the season...
So, we've passed the halfway point in the season and it was great to get another podium in New Zealand.
After what had happened on the Acropolis, it was good to make up for some of the points we missed out on there and it was an important result for the team, especially given what happened to Jari-Matti [Latvala – my team-mate] on Friday afternoon, when he lost four-and-a-half minutes.
His accident showed how easy it was to get it wrong, and after I had lost out in Greece, making sure I got to the end in New Zealand was always uppermost in my mind. Although I pushed hard, I didn't want to go crazy and push over-the-top like I had done in Greece, when I pushed just half a per cent too far and it bit me. It was more important to finish third than to crash whilst chasing first or second.
However, my feelings are still mixed as I really think we could have won and should have been top at the end of the three days.
Again, we did well in the qualifying stage on the Thursday, but the wrong tyre choice on Friday morning really cost us.
I cannot tell you how disappointed I and the whole team were on Friday when we got the tyre choice wrong, and after that, although we kept our spirits up and kept fighting, it was always going to be extremely difficult to come back. We closed the gap to Mikko [Hirvonen] a bit by the end and came away with another podium, but you know, I'm a bit tired of podiums now – I want to win!
The decision to go with the harder tyres on Friday morning was one we took together as a team. We didn't think the soft compound tyres would last the whole loop of stages, taking into consideration the roads, the distance and the weather.
Unfortunately, the roads turned out to be wetter than we had anticipated. Jari-Matti went on the soft tyres because he was starting each stage 20 minutes after me, and we knew the roads would be quite a bit cleaner by the time he went through. So based on the facts, we went with the hard compound. It was wrong, but sometimes these things happen...
That's why it was pleasing in a way to come back and still get a top-three because we gave away almost 90 seconds and were down in seventh after SS4.
Unfortunately though, I couldn't do anything about the Citroëns of Sébastien [Loeb] and Mikko [Hirvonen]. They were very fast, and I wasn't willing to push any harder because I needed to finish. I was actually the quickest driver in the rally on Saturday, and if you look at the stage times and the gaps between the top three at the end, we were all driving at a very similar speed – so without what happened on Friday morning, trust me, it would have been one hell of a fight!
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