18 September 2005
Solberg inherits GB win, as Loeb declines.
Subaru team leader, Petter Solberg has won a sombre Wales Rally GB, which was cut short Sunday following the tragic death of Michael Park - Markko Martin's co-driver, when the Estonian crashed out in SS15.
Martin's Peugeot 307 WRC hit a tree during the 27.42 kilometre Margam 1 stage, the accident fatally wounding Park. The stage was immediately stopped and the remaining two tests were cancelled. There was no celebrations at the finish in Cardiff's Millennium Stadium at 14.00 hours local time and drivers and fans observed a minutes silence for 'Beef'. The post-event press conference was also cancelled.
Following the incident, Peugeot withdrew their second car, driven by Marcus Gronholm, who would have finished third, as a mark of respect.
As such, Sebastien Loeb, who had dominated the event and who was well on course to take his ninth win of the season - and his first in Wales, would have done enough to retain the drivers' championship. However the Frenchman did not want to secure the title in such circumstances and he therefore elected to check into the final time control late. The penalty dropped him to third in the overall classification, behind Solberg and his Citroen team-mate, Francois Duval.
Mitsubishi's Harri Rovanpera was fourth, while Manfred Stohl was fifth, the best of the privateers, followed by Ford number two driver, Roman Kresta, Skoda's Colin McRae and Mark Higgins. Kris Meeke and Henning Solberg rounded out the top ten.
Of the remaining 'works' entries, Gigi Galli was classified 13th, he lost time in SS15 after going off the road in his Mitsubishi, while Armin Schwarz was 14th for Skoda and Chris Atkinson, 38th - after re-starting this morning under the SupeRally regulations.
Stephane Sarrazin did not finish in the third 'works' Impreza - he retired on Saturday, after going off the road in SS8 and damaging the front of his car, while Ford team leader, Toni Gardemeister was excluded late Friday night as his car was found to be underweight.
The Production Car WRC win went to Aki Teiskonen, who was 42.3 seconds up on Marcos Ligato, the next best runner in the PCWRC category. Teiskonen also took the overall Group N win, 7.2 seconds ahead of Niall McShea.
Nasser Al-Attiyah claimed third in the PCWRC category - and with it the lead in the Production drivers' championship - followed by Hamed Al Wahaibi, Angelo Medeghini, Fabio Frisiero, Natalie Barratt and Riccardo Errani. Only eight PCWRC crews made it to the finish.
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