Petter Solberg suffered a heart-breaking defeat just as he was about to win his first round of the FIA European Rallycross Championship in Kouvola at the weekend.
Having performed flawlessly in the heats and semi-final, Solberg was through to the final, despite suffering a puncture in the first heat.
In the final, Solberg pulled out a huge lead of more than three seconds after making a brilliant and brave move round the outside following the start. However, just one and a half tantalising laps from the finish, a front wheel came loose, meaning that the car would no longer steer.
The end result was retirement and Solberg admitted it was one of the most disappointing of his career.
“It's hard to describe how we all feel at the moment; it's just so sad,” he said. “When you have a lead of three and a half seconds and there's only just over a lap to go, and you know that everyone behind you has no chance…it's just so crazily frustrating.
“I've been there before in my career and that's ultimately how you cope with it, but at the time I just couldn't believe what was happening. I noticed just before that the car felt a little bit loose; then suddenly there was absolutely nothing that I could do: I knew straightaway then that it was over.”
The failure was later traced to a broken bolt in the suspension, with Solberg preferring to look to the positives ahead of the next round of the season at Hell in Norway this coming weekend.
“Looking at the positives, our speed was fantastic and now we can say we have solved most of the problems we experienced with the engine in the past,” he said. “We had some really good fun out there in the finals and semi-finals. Now we have to learn what we can from this experience and look forward to the next round, which is going to be on home territory in Norway. Of course, it's going to be one of the most important races of the year for us. Hopefully our luck will change then: it's been pretty unbelievable so far…”