Despite being beaten to victory on the final day, Petter Solberg insisted he was reasonably happy with second place on Rally Japan – having battled illness throughout the latest round of the WRC season.
The privateer Citroen driver was hit by a fever in the run up to the event but made light of his illness to lead the event through the opening two days.
Day three saw the Norwegian embroiled in a three-way fight for victory with Mikko Hirvonen and Sebastien Ogier and while a broken track control arm meant he had to settle for second behind Ogier, Solberg refused to be too downbeat at the finish.
“Fighting with illness was maybe the hardest part,” he said. “It was very tough the day before shakedown and then at shakedown. I thought I would struggle to drive, but the Citroen doctor helped me and got some stuff for me which helped. It helped, but it was very, very difficult on the first day.
“It was a good battle. I had really good fun and it's been quite difficult to drive on the stages. I've been first on the road, but I had no problem with that – I enjoyed it. I was thinking to lose a bit of time, but I was full of confidence to beat him [Ogier], but on the second stage after six or seven kilometres, I touched something and a joint on the track control arm fell off. The wheel got completely free and loose. After that, I tried really hard to keep my position.
“I was sure the car would break down as there was nothing holding it. We are lucky to be here. I am a little bit disappointed not to fight to the finish and do it properly. Next time.”
Team boss Ken Rees admitted that the disappointment that was felt in missing victory was offset by the fact that Solberg had taken points out of Jari-Matti Latvala in the race for third in the standings.
“It's fantastic to get a podium when you consider how ill Petter was on Thursday night,” he said. “After leading for two days it's hard to accept the fact we're second especially as the team has worked so hard. But we've had to give in to a mechanical failure on the last few stages.
“[However] our goal is third in the championship and we took some points off Jari-Matti today so we have to be pleased."