Ford's Petter Solberg was left 'gutted' after retiring from day one of Rally de Espana this morning.
Solberg began the final round in the 2012 World Rally Championship promisingly and was fourth quickest in the first test, the 7 km Gandesa stage, just 3.5 seconds off the pace. However he was one of several drivers to get caught out in SS2 after he hit a rock in a deep rut that was obscured by water. The impact damaged the front left suspension on his Fiesta RS WRC car and he was unable to continue.
Although he will be able to restart on Saturday under the Rally 2 regulations, he is now well down the classification having incurred 25 minutes worth of penalties.
“I feel so bad,” Solberg said back in service. “Conditions were treacherous but up to the point where we had the impact, the stage was going perfectly.
“I was driving well within myself and setting good split times when we came around a fourth-gear left corner about 20km after the start. We were dragged into a big rut that was full of water and an exposed rock was hidden in the rut. We immediately saw it would be impossible to fix the damage.”
“Day 1 definitely didn't go the way we planned or hoped,” he added on his official Facebook page. “Broken front left suspension, after being pulled into a water filled hole containing a large rock on SS2. We were one of five cars to succumb to this disguised feature.
“Luckily for others, Chris [Patterson – my co-driver] went and warned some other drivers or honestly that number would have grown significantly. I wish the same was done for us, but it is what it is.
“Unfortunately our fight for a good result or win is over, but we'll be back tomorrow under Rally2 regulations.
"We're gutted, but it is at times like these that you just need to look forward,” Petter concluded.