Petter Solberg and his Citroen DS3 went top of the time sheets during the shakedown stage through Salou ahead of this weekend's Rally de Espana.
Citroen Racing Technologies, Beniot Nogier had said that a turn in luck could just be what the Norwegian needs, after a run of bad luck during the season has seen his relative competitiveness stand for nothing, and Solberg started the weekend in ideal fashion with the quickest run through the shakedown test.
The Norwegian was just two tenths quicker than Federico Villagra in his Ford Fiesta RS, despite his late arrival in Spain for the event, with the Munchi's man two-tenths clear of a trio of drivers in third - headed by Citroen's championship protagonist Sebastian Ogier. Ford pair Jari-Matti Latvala and Henning Solberg matched Ogier's time
Argentine, Villagra also heads into the weekend quietly confident, although the Ford driver maintains he's not getting too excited after shakedown.
“Maybe not competing in the WRC for three months has helped me,” Villagra said. “For sure it helps for the confidence because this was my first time driving the car on Tarmac but this is just the shakedown.”
The two other championship protagonists Sebastian Loeb and Mikko Hirvonen were separated by just a tenth of second in sixth and seventh with Hirvonen just shading it from championship leader Loeb, who was joined in seventh by Norwegian Mads Ostberg.
The two Mini's driven by home favourite Dani Sordo along with team mate Kris Meeke both rounded out the top ten, not too far off the pace.
Former Formula One world champion Kimi Raikkonen was down in 16th position and some five seconds off the pace.
Rally Espana Shakedown times – Top ten:
1. Petter Solberg
PSWRT Citroen DS3 WRC 02mins 08.5secs
2. Federico Villagra
Munchi's Ford Fiesta RS WRC 02mins 08.7secs
3. Sebastien Ogier
Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC 02mins 08.9secs
=. Jari-Matti Latvala
Ford Abu Dhabi WRT Fiesta RS WRC 02mins 08.9secs
=. Henning Solberg
M-Sport Stobart Ford Fiesta RS WRC 02mins 08.9secs
6. Mikko Hirvonen
Ford Abu Dhabi WRT Fiesta RS WRC 02mins 09.0secs
7. Mads Ostberg
M-Sport Stobart Ford Fiesta RS WRC 02mins 09.1secs
=. Sebastien Loeb
Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC 02mins 09.1secs
9. Dani Sordo
MINI WRT John Cooper Works 02mins 09.4secs
10. Kris Meeke
MINI WRT John Cooper Works 02mins 10.7secs
by Simon Evans