World Rally Championship veteran Petter Solberg admitted that he was unable to dial in the settings he needed for his Fiesta RS WRC to close the gap on the all-conquering Citroens on Rally Finland.
The Norwegian, co-driven by Chris Patterson, had set a fastest time during each of the opening two legs, and started the final day just 1.1secs behind Ford team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala, but a set-up change to his Fiesta designed to try and improve performance failed to pay off and he was forced to revert to his original settings as he settled for fourth, finishing 21.1secs behind Latvala.
“I pushed very hard for the first two days [and], this morning, we agreed that I would try some different settings to see if it would allow us to close on the guys ahead," Solberg revealed at the end of the final day, "I was looking for the 'magic' set-up, but it didn't work. The car was too low and the sump guard was hitting the road, so I reverted back to my original settings."
That the decision didn't work out was particularly frustrating as Solberg watched the gap to Latvala grow, and his team-mate go on to secure a podium finish at the head of a queue of seven Fiestas between third and ninth
“Jari-Matti and I had exactly the same speed for the first two days but, unfortunately, it wasn't fast enough to win. I tried really hard on the final Power Stage to try to take maximum bonus points, but I missed out by half a second. That seems to be the story of the weekend!”
Ford World Rally Team director Malcolm Wilson was pleased with Latvala's podium, but admitted he had hoped for more from both of his drivers as he watched rivals Citroen land another 1-2 finish that allowed Sebastien Loeb to extend his championship advantage.
“We lost ground during Thursday's short leg and, given the pace of Rally Finland, we knew it would be difficult to pull time back," Wilson admitted, "That proved to be the case and we weren't able to claw back the seconds we lost. However, we had no problems with either car and it was also encouraging to have seven Fiesta RS WRCs in the top ten."