Petter Solberg has said that he has been really pleased with his form this season in the 2009 World Rally Championship and that it has gone a lot better than he expected.

Solberg recently failed to finish in Finland, but prior to his exit on the opening day, he was running extremely well. Indeed he was second overall in his 2006 spec Citroen Xsara WRC, just 7.1 seconds behind Ford works driver and eventual winner, Mikko Hirvonen - and ahead of Sebastien Loeb and Dani Sordo.

While the end result wasn't very good and he was forced to retire on day two after rejoining under the SupeRally - engine problems forcing him out after SS13, the Norwegian is still upbeat about what his team has achieved, especially as it was formed so quickly after Subaru's sudden decision to quit in December 2008.

"I am very happy with the results. We are much faster now than we have been for the last few years - even with an old car," Solberg stated in an exclusive interview with Radio.

"The plan [initially] was just to take it rally-by-rally and see how the budget was and just to stay in there and have some fun.

"But it has been working really well - and we have had some good results. We were fighting for the win in Greece and we were second in Finland in front of the Citroen factory cars [before I had to retire from day one in SS4]. It was quite enjoyable. It actually went better than I expected."

Solberg will now sit out the Rally Australia, a decision confirmed last week, and while he has yet to decide on what car he will use in Spain and on Rally GB, he hasn't ruled out sticking with the Xsara for at least one more event.

"Maybe I could do that for Spain because it is a car I have been looking forward to driving on tarmac," he replied when asked if the Citroen was an option for the eleventh round in the 2009 World Rally Championship.

"Let's see. I am working flat out these days on different options. But the plan for next year is to fight for the world championship. All the things I am doing now are very important for next year's planning."

So has he enjoyed running his own team? And just how big a challenge has it been?

"Honestly I have so many good people around me in the team here - and my wife in the background and a lot of people with experience, that it has not been too bad," he continued.

"Unfortunately we had some problems on some rallies and we lost some very good places. But it is going much better than I expected and actually the whole year has been better than expected.

"Of course it has been a lot of work, but it has been a lot of fun too. The team has been working really well and at least I kept up my image and kept my fans. It helps from that point of view.

"But obviously next year I need something different to drive so we can fight properly for a win."



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