It may be Petter Solberg's birthday but there were not so many happy returns after he came home a quiet fifth on the Rally Ireland.

Citing it as 'the most difficult rally' he has ever done, Solberg scored just a single stage win - on the final super special stage - on the way to an eventual fifth place, a result that nonetheless moves him more comfortably into fifth place in the standings.

Heading to the final round of the season, Solberg, 33 years-old today, admits fifth was not the result he had hoped for, but claims to have at least enjoyed himself on his first ever visit to Ireland.

"It's been the most difficult rally I have ever done I think, but it's been quite enjoyable," he said. "It's been very special for Phil and me as you have to really work properly together as a team to get through this rally, and we have finished with no mistakes at all.

"The car is working better and we have had some good stage times, so it has been quite a good event for us. The result is not what we hoped, but we will now really, really work hard for Wales Rally GB."

However, despite the result, with Chris Atkinson unable to contribute more than two points to the manufacturers' championship after finishing under the SupeRally format, Subaru head to the Rally GB now a point behind Stobart VK Ford in the standings.

Still, Subaru Team Manager Richard Taylor labelled Rally Ireland as disappointing, he is confident they can still overhaul Stobart in Wales.

"Our results here have been disappointing however we have made some positive steps with chassis development for the future. Petter and Chris have scored manufacturers' championship points keeping up a close competition for third overall as we head to Wales Rally GB."



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