13 March 2005
Solberg gives new Impreza debut win in Mexico.
Subaru team leader, Petter Solberg has won the Rally Mexico, the Norwegian leading from start to finish in the new Impreza, and eventually taking the honours by over 30 seconds.
'Hollywood' eased off through the final leg to ensure he finished and although he has suffered some brake problems - like most of his rivals - the new 2005 specification Impreza more than delivered.
Solberg, who won last month in Sweden too, now leads the WRC drivers' championship, one point up on Markko Martin, who has thus far had an incredibly consistent start to the year.
Speaking at the finish Solberg dedicated the win to Ryuichiro Kuze - one of the founding members of the team, who passed away on the Wednesday prior to the start of the event.
"To get a win with the old car in Sweden and another with the new one here is a great feeling - for sure there's still more to come from this car but I'm very happy with the progress we've made already," he said.
"It's also very special to be able to win here for Mr Kuze. Without him, none of this would be possible, and I'm pleased to be able to dedicate this win to him. At the end of the day this result is all about teamwork, and I'm lucky to have such a great group of people behind me. I can't thank them enough."
Marcus Gronholm took the runners-up spot, around a minute up on his Peugeot team-mate, Martin, who took third. Gronholm, who was in contention for the victory throughout the opening day, was conscious that he needed a finish this time out, following errors in both Sweden and Monte Carlo and as a consequence he was happy to settle for the eight points.
As a result of their 2-3 finish, Peugeot now lead the constructors' race, 8 points in front of Mitsubishi and Ford.
"I was very glad to see the end; it has been a very tricky event and I was concentrating extremely hard on not taking any unnecessary risks," said Gronholm. "This has not really been a rally I enjoyed, but the most important thing is that the car has been extremely reliable and we are on the podium."
Sebastien Loeb took fourth, the Frenchman demoting both Harri Rovanpera and Toni Gardemeister in the final test of the event, winning it by some 30 odd seconds. Despite a poor start on Friday, when he lost over 4 minutes, the reigning world champion never gave up, and his reward was 5 more points to aid his battle to retain the drivers' crown.
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