The 555 Subaru World Rally Team endured a day of mixed fortunes today [Friday] during the opening leg of the Rallye Catalunya.

After clinching a stage win and demonstrating the competitive performance of the Subaru Impreza WRC, Petter Solberg collected a 50 second time penalty after an unexpected service delay. At the end of Leg 1, he holds overnight eleventh place.

"It's not been a good day, but I'm hopeful that there's still time to catch up the leaders," said the Norwegian. "We lost 50 seconds in service when we had a problem with the alternator and I just had to sit in the car and wait for it to be fixed.

"But, looking back we're actually very lucky that the guys found the problem or we could have retired. Today is just the first day and hopefully we can turn things around and improve our position. There's nothing wrong at all with my motivation."

Tommi Makinen meanwhile ended the day ninth in the sister car, the Finn hoping for rain tomorrow, so that he and Solberg can take advantage of the Pirelli wet tyres and move up the leaderboard - just like they did last weekend in Corscia.

"I'm pretty happy with the set-up of the car ahead of tomorrow's stages and we haven't had to change much at all today," said Makinen. "If it's cool and damp tomorrow morning then we'll have a good opportunity to move up the leaderboard. It's raining a little bit on some of the stages at the moment, and if that it continues tomorrow, then anything can happen."

Team principal, David Lapworth added: "We made a great start to this event with Petter setting a fastest time. It was very promising, which then made it all the more disappointing when we found the problem with Petter's car in service and lost some time. But, there are still plenty of kilometres left for Petter and Tommi to fight back and I think our championship rivals at the top of the leaderboard are under a lot of pressure. We just need to ensure we get a clear run to the finish of this rally and that will keep us in the hunt for the Championship title."

Fiore Brivio, Pirelli Tyres Rally manager, continued: "Today started very well, with Petter setting a fastest stage time. Unfortunately, as can be the case with rallying, luck isn't always on your side, hence the end of Leg one positions. However, as in Corsica, the weather forecast shows that rain is likely tomorrow, and if this proves to be correct we're confident that we can once again fight for a podium position. Both Tommi and Petter selected the Pirelli PZero RX tarmac tyre today. However, if the rain that's forecast does materialise we also have the option of using the Pirelli PZero RE wet weather tarmac tyre."

Tomorrow's leg uses a similar format to today's, Leg two includes 131.26 competitive kilometres and a liaison distance of 298.43km. Run around the town of Vic, crews will contest another eight stages, including another loop of three repeated. Competitors will leave Lloret de Mar at 0700hrs, and the first stage [SS9] starts at 0853hrs.

 

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