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Petter Solberg: Japan stage wins `very important`.

Subaru's Petter Solberg may not have been able to challenge for the win on the Rally Japan last weekend, but the Norwegian was buoyed by the pace of the relatively new Impreza WRC2008.

Solberg, who went into the penultimate round of the World Rally Championship and the team's home event saying he was 'thinking of nothing but a victory', ran as high as fourth. However while pushing to try and close the 20-odd second deficit to Sebastien Loeb in third place on day two, he slid wide in a left hander in SS18 - the 9.55 kilometre Kina 2 test - and spun. The car suffered heavy right rear damage in the incident and he was thus forced to call it a day.

Re-starting on the Sunday under the SupeRally, after a fantastic effort by the team to repair the car, Petter put in a charge and despite suffering a cracked exhaust manifold in SS23, which robbed him of power, he hauled himself back up the leaderboard.

Indeed having started day three twelfth, he finished eighth in the end and notched up the final drivers' point. In total he managed four fastest stage times and was third or better in every single test on Sunday, bar just two.

"I must say that Subaru have done a very good job and I'm very happy with my performance on Saturday and Sunday. We have improved the speed quite a lot and we have many stage wins and that's very important," said 'Hollywood'.

"There really are a lot of good things to come from this rally and we need to continue to work with the car from exactly where it is now.

"Today was so difficult in the conditions. We had a few problems like a puncture and the screen fully blocked with fog on the long stage in the morning [SS23] so I think we could have won a few more stages actually.

"I've enjoyed coming back again today, and the team did a very good job to get the car ready and I'm very proud of them. If I'm fourth, or fifth, or sixth, for me, honestly it doesn't matter. The main thing here is that we get the car faster and get back to the top and to fight for a win again. That's absolutely the main thing."

Subaru team boss David Richards meanwhile was also very encouraged by the pace of the Impreza and believes this is a good sign heading into December's season finale in Wales.

"Today has been especially challenging with some of the most difficult conditions we've seen on a WRC event for many years. We have won four stages this weekend on home soil, and clearly demonstrated a good step forward in performance," Richards concluded. "This will stand us in good stead as we head for the final round of the championship in GB at the start of December."


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Petter Solberg (N) Subaru impreza WRC 2008
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