Former World Rally Champion Petter Solberg has admitted that his early retirement from last year's Rally Finland likely cost him a podium position in the 2010 edition at the weekend, after world champion-elect Sébastien Loeb narrowly pipped him to third place on the final day.
Having paced the opening stage on Thursday, Solberg regained the lead of the rally when BP Ford Abu Dhabi rival Mikko Hirvonen rolled his Focus in SS4 on Friday morning. The Norwegian went on to conclude the day lying second behind Hirvonen's team-mate – and eventual winner – Jari-Matti Latvala, but he would subsequently cede positions to Citroën duo Sébastien Ogier and namesake Loeb.
The latter only managed to ease ahead following SS16, and ultimately wound up just under five seconds ahead of Solberg to deny 'Hollywood' and new co-driver Chris Patterson the last spot on the rostrum. The 35-year-old has nonetheless consolidated his fourth position in the drivers' standings ahead of Rally Germany later this month.
“It was a good rally, and though I am disappointed that I lost my podium, it was good fun to fight with the big teams,” Solberg reported. “I really tried to keep Loeb behind me, but I lost too much time on the stages that I didn't drive last year – you need to experience them to be able to drive them fast.
“[Overall] it was a good, close fight both days, the car was perfect and the stages and the atmosphere were fantastic, so yes, it really was a good weekend!”