After a measured performance today on the 72nd Rallye Automobile Monte Carlo, 555 Subaru driver Petter Solberg holds overnight sixth place and is well positioned ahead of legs two and three.

Despite a less than perfect day, the reigning world rally champion, is confident and is determined to improve upon his best finish at the principality to date - a sixth in 2002.

"It's been difficult today," noted the Norwegian, "what with being first on the road and being forced to make some very difficult tyre choices. As the temperatures rose, the amount of snow and ice became very unpredictable, but that's how it is.

"I'm happy with where I am, my plan was always to be between fourth and sixth at the end of the first day. Tomorrow, perhaps we'll try more speed, but I have a lot of respect for this rally and can't be stupid like last year. I wanted to come through the first day cleanly and I've done just that."

His new Subaru team-mate Mikko Hirvonen meanwhile has also been taking a long-term approach to the event. He ended the day in overnight eighth, 0.8 seconds off seventh overall.

"It's been a really good first day, I'm really happy," said the Finn, "It's all going according to our plan and to already be in a potential point winning position feels good. I had a little bit of a shock driving on the snow this morning, but we took things steady and I've made no mistakes all day. I lifted off a bit on the last stage, just to be safe, but I'm very pleased with how it's gone and I'm looking forward to tomorrow."

Subaru team principal David Lapworth added: "Overall, it's been a good solid day, nothing spectacular, but that's absolutely according to our plan. Both Petter and Mikko have stuck to a strategy of keeping out of trouble and erring on the side of caution when it came to tyre choice and pace. At the end of the day we're exactly where we planned to be. Now we have to wait and see if the conditions tomorrow will allow us to push a little harder and climb the leaderboard."

Fiore Brivio, Pirelli tyres rally manager, continued: "Today has been a typical Monte Carlo Rally day with the drivers encountering a mixture of conditions from the outset. Petter selected the Pirelli PZero S1 full snow tyre for the first group of stages - his Pirellis sweeping the road for those that followed.

"During the second service of the day, Petter chose the Pirelli WX tyre, which was partially studded in order to combat the mixture of ice and snow conditions. Mikko Hirvonen spent the day gaining valuable experience of his Pirelli tyres, selecting to use the Pirelli PZero WX with studs in the morning and later, in the last section of stages, with no studs at all."

Tomorrow's leg starts at 0640hrs when crews leave Monaco parc ferm? for the first service of the day. The second longest of the event, Leg two comprises a further five stages and 140.79 competitive kilometres. Run north of Nice, which is more than 200km south of Leg one's action, Leg two includes the longest test of the event, SS7, which is 34.41km. The first test starts at 0818hrs.

 

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