Petter Solberg and his Subaru team believe their long victory drought - stretching back more than three years and, incredibly, 51 rallies - could yet come to an end on this weekend's Wales Rally GB, an event on which the Norwegian has triumphed four times.

At the midway stage on day two, Solberg sits in fourth position, but over the morning's stages he has practically halved the 46-second gap separating him from leader Jari-Matti Latvala, despite insisting he is taking fewer risks than those ahead of him.

Having not won for what must seem to be an interminable length of time by his high standards, the 2003 World Rally Champion is clearly beginning to scent victory again - and beginning to push.

"It's been a good day," the 34-year-old told in Swansea. "We've been struggling a little bit with the ice and it's still slippery, but on the muddy sections it's okay. Yesterday was more difficult to judge.

"We have to try to get some more grip on the ice, which is where we are struggling, but here everything can happen, I tell you - everything."

Those sentiments were echoed by the Prodrive-run outfit's team principal David Lapworth, who urged that a win - for the first time since the same rally back in 2005 - is very much 'possible'.

"Petter seems quite relaxed," the Englishman remarked of the 13-time rally-winner. "It's a difficult balance to get right, because we said from the beginning that we weren't going to win this rally by going mad and that you could win or lose it on the last corner of the last stage.

"It's all about trying to find that balance between being in touch and not being in a ditch. He's pretty happy with things when the conditions are good, but he is struggling a little bit when it's icy.

"I think [a win] is possible. For sure, to do the kind of times that Latvala has been doing there is a level of risk, and being first-on-the-road the level of risk is even higher, because you've got no warning and there are no marks in the ditch, so there has to be a chance of things going wrong.

"When you look at some of Petter's split times when the conditions are good, you can see that the performance is there. Effectively when you look at it he's in third place really - that's easily within his grasp - and then he's not so far away from the other two either. Things could happen."

Turning his attentions to Chris Atkinson in the sister Impreza WRC, Lapworth joked that the Australian had been 'shaken but not too badly stirred' by his fiery roll early into the first run through Walters Arena on Friday evening, following which he had been taken to hospital for precautionary checks.

"He's okay," Lapworth affirmed, confessing that his charge had simply been 'going too fast for the conditions'. "He's got a few bruises and a bit of a black eye and so on, but he's in good spirits. He was down here quite early for a coffee this morning and he's fine.

"It was a very, very difficult place, much slipperier than he expected - not typical of the conditions on the Gold Coast! I think it just caught him out, and after a big accident like that he can't remember what happened anyway."

by Russell Atkins



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