After two weeks of meticulous preparation at the 555 Subaru team's headquarters in Banbury, Petter Solberg's Impreza WRC2003 was in bad shape yesterday after an accident at shakedown threatened to end his rally before it had even begun.

Solberg was negotiating a right-hand corner near the start of the 7km practice stage, when he hit a patch of gravel and slid off the road.

In a series of impacts, the car sustained damage to the front and rear ends as well as to the driver's side rear quarter panel following a collision that was so hard it broke a telegraph pole.

Co-driver Phil Mills was the first to notify the team of the incident, with a telephone call to principal engineer Pierre Genon.

Once it was clear that he and Solberg were uninjured, operations director Paul Howarth co-ordinated efforts to ensure Petter's car was ready to start the event on Friday morning as planned. Here's how the plan worked out:

1120hrs Accident occurs.

1130hrs A group of team members go to evaluate nearby car repair workshops.

1230hrs Recovery truck delivers Solberg's car to the SWRT service area in Ajaccio.

1300hrs Initial assessment of damage. No.1 mechanic and Solberg's engineer dispatched to assess facilities at chosen workshop, Les Moulins Blanc, 3kms outside Ajaccio. Engine, gearbox and suspension removed from car.

1530hrs Bodyshell loaded onto transporter truck and taken to workshop. Six of Petter's crew of technicians (who originally took two weeks to build the car in the UK) are joined by one of Makinen's crew, two parts technicians, and the three staff from the local workshop. Simon Steele, the team's technical support manager and Pierre Genon supervise the work.

1600hrs Shell secured to body bench. Repair work begins to front and rear chassis legs, sill section, rear wheel arch and C-pillar.

2130hrs Bodywork completed. Re-assembly commences.

2230hrs Gearbox and new engine fitted.

0230hrs All major mechanical components including all suspension fitted.

0350hrs New wing, bumpers, boot lid, rear spoiler, rear door, radiator package and intercooler fitted.

0400hrs Principal engineer Pierre Genon takes car for road test.

0415hrs Car driven back to service area in Ajaccio. Team fine-tune suspension alignment and set-up using service area facilities.

0700hrs Stickers and other cosmetic work completed. Overnight crew take a break, relieved by fresh technicians.

0730hrs Solberg and Mills arrive in service.

0745hrs Scrutineers re-check and approve the car.

0911hrs Solberg and Mills start the rally as scheduled.

 

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