In Petter Solberg's latest exclusive column on Crash.net, the Ford World Rally Team man looks back on Rallye Deutschland, where it all went wrong in Panzerplatte 1...
Germany didn't end how I wanted it to, but we have to take the positives away from the event. To be lying second at the end of the first day, so close to a driver who has only ever been beaten in Germany once, was massively encouraging. The performance of the Ford Fiesta RS WRC on asphalt was fantastic. It was just such a shame that in the end I couldn't join Jari-Matti [Latvala – my team-mate] on the podium, because that would have been a great result for the whole team and a perfect reward for everybody's hard work. I have to hold my hands up, though, because it was my mistake on Saturday and I'm very sorry for that.
Germany was always going to be quite a tough event, as it was my first outing with the Fiesta RS WRC on a 'pure' tarmac round. I'd only had very limited asphalt running in Monte-Carlo at the beginning of the year and just a few days' testing, so I was not 100 per cent confident going into the rally. But in terms of my performance and the performance of the car over the weekend, I was very happy and I think that bodes very well for France and Catalunya later in the season.
Indeed, the first day went really well in Trier and I must admit, it was a nice surprise to end the opening leg in second and so close to Sébastien Loeb, because as I explained, I was not 100 per cent sure how my form in the Fiesta RS WRC would be on asphalt. We were very competitive though, and set top-four times in every single stage, which was massively encouraging.
Day two started in the same way and I was second-quickest in the first two stages, just two seconds behind Loeb in Peterberg 1. Then though, we came to Arena Panzerplatte 1 and it all went wrong...
Basically, it was a long left-hand corner that tightened, and the back end of the car just started to get away from me. I was unable to catch the slide, and the next thing I knew, there was a loud 'bang' at the right-rear. The wheel didn't actually come off straightaway and we thought initially we might be able to continue, but we realised a few kilometres later that the damage was too great.
It was so frustrating, as I was driving within myself and it was the first mistake I had made all rally, but it was a costly one.
On Sunday we re-started and while I was quickest in Dhrontal 2, to be honest, I wasn't really pushing. The main objective was just to get to the end of the rally and go for the extra points on the Power Stage, but I made a couple of small mistakes there and that was that. The only consolation was that we got a few manufacturers' points, but it could have been – and should have been – a lot better.
Still, as ever the event itself was good and I always enjoy it – and this year was no exception despite how things turned out.