17 August 2008
Germany - day 3: Loeb in seventh heaven.
Petter Solberg and Chris Atkinson completed the top six in their Subaru Impreza WRC2008s, and while the latter was 2 minutes adrift of his team-mate after a number of minor issues, including a costly overshot on day 1 and a puncture on day 2, both were reasonably happy.
"We had no problems at all this weekend which is very good. The very positive thing is that things have improved through the rally. We started with okay speed, and it got better through the rally,” said 'Hollywood'. “You have to remember we've only done two days' testing with the car, so I'm really very happy with it. I think we've found the direction we need to get the maximum from the car, so it's good."
"There were large gaps today so we weren't taking any silly risks,” added Chris. “Okay it's not been a bad weekend and there are a lot of things we can take forward from it. This morning was a little frustrating, but we tried to find out some new things today that will help us continue fine-tuning the car and improve our performance which is the main focus."
Further down the order Stobart Ford's Henning Solberg and Citroen privateer Urmo Aava were seventh and eighth respectively, followed by Jari-Matti Latvala and Suzuki's Toni Gardemeister, who collected the final manufacturers' point in tenth.
Henning was delighted to take P7 and score his first ever points on asphalt, not that he had it easy on Sunday, as Aava pushed hard cutting the Norwegian's cushion from 23.7 seconds overnight to just 1.6 seconds at the end.
"This has been a very special result for me it's nearly like winning the rally! Scoring my first points on tarmac is a big achievement and we have made some good steps here,” he stated.
“It was a difficult rally for me as I don't have much experience on tarmac and I came here to learn some more and make improvements. I knew I wasn't going to be challenging with the leaders here but we made good progress and learnt a lot for Spain and Corsica."
Jari's event was a lot less positive and after rolling his Focus on day 2, which dropped him from fifth to tenth, he never recovered.
"It was frustrating," he conceded. "It started well on Friday and I had a good position and feeling with the car but yesterday and today were nightmares. At least I increased my asphalt experience though. It's the most difficult of the asphalt rallies as the surface changes all the time. I learned that on aggressive asphalt I'm OK, but on a smoother surface I'm far away in my car set-up and confidence level.”
Of the rest Andreas Mikkelsen and Matthew Wilson finished eleventh and twelfth, with Conrad Rautenbach 13th, Khalid Al Qassimi 14th and Per-Gunnar Andersson 15th.
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