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Petter: I could have beat Mikko

Petter Solberg has said that he was happy with his form on the Acropolis Rally at the weekend - and he believes that eventual winner, Mikko Hirvonen would have struggled to hold him off.

The Norwegian, who set seven top-five stage times, including winning SS9, was running in a strong second on day two, only 21.9 seconds adrift of P1, when he hit a rock in the penultimate test and broke the suspension on his privately entered Citroen Xsara WRC.

Although he managed to make it through that test and then limped through SS12 and back to service, after a closer look at the car and following discussions with his team, he opted to retire and concentrate on preparing for Poland, rather than re-join under the SupeRally in eleventh - almost twelve minutes adrift.

"The car is fixed enough so that I could have re-started [on Sunday], but I have only one car and if something should happen I would be in trouble for Poland," he explained. "We have worked hard over the week and we never give up, but at the same time we need to keep a close eye on our budget.

"All-in-all though I'm actually quite happy with the weekend. It was really good fun being out there and fighting for good times, with a competitive car.

"We were on a good pace, and it would not have been easy for Hirvonen to keep us behind. It is good to know that our improvements worked out. Now I'm only looking ahead to the Rally Poland."

Asked about that crucial incident in SS11, when the front left top mount suddenly burst out through the bonnet, he revealed that he was on a charge and keen to try and break a winless streak that stretches back to '05.

"I was attacking. I was going flat out on a straight when suddenly we heard a 'boom' and the top mount came out through the bonnet," he added.

"On the road section we managed to get it together with an adjustable spanner. We got through stage SS11 and SS12 with it, but we lost a lot of time. It is a pity. We were very unlucky..."


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Dafydd Larcombe - Unregistered

June 15, 2009 1:06 PM

Not wishing to deny Mikko his well deserved win but it would of been terific to see Petter haul his old Xzara to the front of the battle in Greece. I know the Xzara is a good car, but in 2006 Sebastien Loeb didnt always beat the works Fords in their 1st year with the current Focus and since then the Fords have come a long way and the Xzara was arguably at its peak development then. I think we all underestimated Petters ability during his last few years at Subaru, it also speaks volumes for the obvious decline in Prodrives ability since its past sucess I think its good for the Sport that Petter has done and is doing this in a private Xzara. Well done to Petter and Phil and the team.

Twin Cam Sam - Unregistered

June 15, 2009 9:15 PM

Good point, well made, Dafydd. I certainly thought Petter's ability had declined and not Prodrive and SWRT. It's good to see him proving us all wrong, and as you say in a private 2006 Xsara. Would be good to see him in a front line car giving Loeb a run for his money though.



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