Subaru team leader Petter Solberg was forced to retire from the Rally of Argentina today [Friday] on the road section to SS10 after a small fire on board his Impreza stopped the engine, the Norwegian had been running fourth overall.

Solberg's exit brings to an end an impressive record of 11 consecutive WRC finishes, and he had been going well prior to his exit, recording three fastest stage times.

It wasn't all good though, and a issue with a water splash in SS5 cost him his lead, while an issue in the repeat run through the test, at the same water splash also cost him valuable time, prior to his demise.

"I don't yet know what happened, I'm obviously disappointed, but we're just going to have to work even harder from now on," reflected 'Hollywood'.

"I've done many rallies in my life and tackled many different water splashes, however this has happened three times now and together we're going to have to find the best way of tacking them.

"Looking at the bigger picture it's important to remember that there are still eight rallies and 80 points to go and up to this point we had finished 11 rallies in a row with seven podiums and five wins. It's tough, but you have to accept that these things happen to everyone some time. I'd like to start again tomorrow if we can get the car returned and fixed in time, as I want to get back out there and tackle the rest of the stages. I want to win here next time."

23-year-old Mikko Hirvonen meanwhile holds overnight sixth place in the sister Impreza WRC2004, after a determined performance. He though also had issues with that water splash in Villa Giardino-La Falda.

"It's been a tough day and I'm quite glad to be back in service! We completely stopped for three minutes at the water splash [on SS9] and after that I'm not sure if we had some engine problems," he said.

"There have been some positive moments though; we set a good time on the long stage [SS8] and again on the last one [SS10]. For tomorrow we'll be going flat out and trying to do some good times, hoping to catch those in front."

Team boss David Lapworth was at a loss to explain why Solberg had been forced to retire.

"We don't yet know exactly what happened to Petter's car. All we do know is that it stopped at the water splash for about seven minutes and sustained some damage. Petter then seemed to be back on the pace until the end of the stage, however after that there was a fire in the car," he explained.

"We'll have to get the car back and look at the data and the damage before we find out all the answers. It's certainly a setback, but all WRC drivers will go through these sorts of things in a 16 round championship. The secret is to pick yourself up and go out and win the next one.

"Despite his own problems Mikko has put in some excellent times today and we're going to be trying to help him maintain this momentum tomorrow."