Current world rally champion Petter Solberg continued to demonstrate the performance of the Subaru Impreza WRC on a range of difficult asphalt conditions yesterday on the Rallye Automobile Monte Carlo, and scored a stage win on SS13.

Unfortunately, a small error on the penultimate test cost the Norwegian two places on the leaderboard, but he still ended the event in a points-scoring position.

"What can I say? I just hit a patch of snow, braked a little too late and slid into a wall," explained 'Hollywood', "It's a shame as I wasn't really driving to risk anything, but these things just happen sometimes. Perhaps I was a little unlucky, but at least we didn't drop out of the points altogether.

"Luckily, we're taking two points away this year, which is two more than last year! Overall, it's not such a bad result especially when you consider that there are fifteen more rallies still to go."

Mikko Hirvonen meanwhile retired yesterday in the 'sister' Impreza, the Subaru new boy going out in stage nine after damaging his car.

David Lapworth, Subaru's team principal, commented: "Monte Carlo has certainly lived up to its difficult and specialist reputation. It's a shame that after such a well-paced performance on Friday and Saturday Petter was caught out this afternoon. But, these things happen and we can take some consolation from the fact that he's got some points in the bag.

"Mechanically, both cars were trouble free all rally, and the pace that Petter showed with his stage win on SS13 highlighted the tarmac developments that have been made in conjunction with Pirelli."

Fiore Brivio, Pirelli tyres rally manager added: "Leg three of Rallye Monte Carlo has again brought both highs and lows. Petter, using the Pirelli PZero RX tarmac rally tyre, in a slightly harder compound than yesterday, set the fastest stage time on SS13. Today's conditions have been better and cleaner than in the previous few days, but naturally we were disappointed to lose two places in the last stage."

Teams now move to Sweden for the second round of the 2004 FIA World Rally Championship. Beginning on Thursday 5 February with a ceremonial start in the host town of Karlstad, the Rally of Sweden is the true winter rally of the series, and can sometimes see temperatures fall as low as - 30 degrees. Over three days, drivers will contest 394.80 competitive kilometres based around a single service point in the town of Hagfors, 80km north of Karlstad's rally headquarters. The first stage will start at 0822hrs on Friday 6 February.



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