Petter Solberg took a solid fifth place finish on the Rallye de France on Sunday, to maintain a run that has seen him score points on every event since the Acropolis, when the all-new Impreza WRC2008 made its debut in the World Rally Championship.

Solberg was involved in an exciting three-way battle for fourth on Friday and Saturday morning, battling with his Subaru team-mate, Chris Atkinson and Ford's Jari-Matti Latvala.

Atkinson was the first to drop out when he picked up a puncture in SS9, while in the repeat loop on day two, 'Hollywood' also dropped back, unable to match the times posted by Jari.

While Petter gained a place on the first stage on Sunday, when Mikko Hirvonen lost time with a puncture, the same fate befell the Norwegian in the next test, when he too lost a minute.

On the afternoon's repeat pass of the same stage, Solberg again suffered a puncture, but luckily he held onto fifth and eventually finished 35 seconds up on Atkinson.

"We had a puncture on the final stage of the morning ten kilometres from the end of the stage, and then again in the final stage, so it's disappointing but that's what can happen," said Hollywood.

"I think the first was a slow puncture as both times I didn't hit anything. After that I drove smart, just taking it easy to get to the finish. I knew we didn't have time to stop and change the wheel, and that it would be quicker to just drive to the finish of both stages.

"We've tried so many things with the car on this rally with different setups, and we have improved areas. That's the problem of not having done any testing though - we make these changes on a rally. Some changes made the car better, some worse, but that's how it goes.

"I'm happy with my performance on this rally though. We had a couple of punctures, but nobody could say I didn't try! Now we look to Japan and going back to gravel on all new routes. I've never seen the stages before but I look forward to them."

Atkinson meanwhile was also pretty pleased with his form: "We had a good start and we were fighting with Jari-Matti and Petter but then we had a puncture which lost us time," he continued.

"Once we had the puncture and I was down I just took it quite safe and easy. In the end I could have pushed for the last day and a half and I might have beaten Petter after his two punctures, but you can never know that and we might have got a puncture anyway so that's life.

"It's been a good weekend though as we were on Petter's pace before the puncture yesterday. I've driven a good rally and it's good to get some points. I think Petter and I are pretty close on tarmac at the moment. He's got an extra point or two out of these last two rallies but we've had a little bit of bad luck. I think we are both pushing quite hard."

Comments

Join the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register to add your comment