Subaru's Petter Solberg endured another difficult day 'at the office' on Friday during the opening leg of the Rally New Zealand and the Norwegian was once again dogged by handling problems.

In the end 'Hollywood' finished proceedings in seventh place overall, around 20 seconds or so off his team-mate, Chris Atkinson, who reported no such difficulties with his Impreza WRC.

Furthermore despite setting the fourth fastest time in SS3, that proved to be the exception rather than the norm, although he was third best in the short - and non-significant - super special stage.

"I did the best I could today. There isn't really much more I can say," said the Norwegian. "I wasn't comfortable with the handling of the car for most of the leg.

"I'm feeling a lot of over-steer and not so much grip from the front, and that doesn't give me the confidence to push.

"Again, we'll try a couple of things tonight to see if that improves the situation for tomorrow, and I'll just keep pushing as hard as I can. That's all I can do."

Atkinson meanwhile was happier in the other Impreza nominated to score manufacturers' points and in addition to winning the SSS, was fourth fastest in SS1 and SS2, fifth in SS4 and seventh in SS3.

The Aussie is now looking forward to Saturday's second leg, and especially the Franklin and Possum sections, both of which he was fastest on in 2006.

"It's going well. We're in fourth place which isn't bad. I think it's maybe the best we could have hoped for," he added.

"It's a bit similar to Finland, where we were fourth for most of the rally, except this time there are a lot more quick drivers close behind us.

"The first three stages tomorrow are good for me, we won two of them last year but then I broke a wheel, so I don't have any experience of the last two, which will make it tricky.

"But hopefully we can hold the position, that's all we can do. Mikko [Hirvonen], Marcus [Gronholm] and Sebastien [Loeb] are too quick for us at the moment, but we'll keep pushing, that's for sure."

For the record, SWRT 'third' driver Xavier Pons did not finish the leg after an off in SS3, he will re-join the fold under the SupeRally on Saturday.

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