Petter Solberg plans to follow up his dominant run in Sweden by winning the Corona Rally Mexico in his first rally outing with the 2005-spec Subaru Impreza. But will rain ruin his chances?
Petter Solberg plans to follow up his dominant run in Sweden by winning the Corona Rally Mexico in his first rally outing with the 2005-spec Subaru Impreza. But will rain spoil his chances?
Last year’s Mexican Rally saw the introduction of the 2004-specification Impreza WRC, but the event was disastrous for the Norwegian. An alternator failure at the end of the opening leg cost Solberg five minutes in road penalties as he had to push his car over the time control ramp. The Norwegian has admitted, however, that he has no fears of a repeat incident this weekend.
According to , Solberg tested the new Impreza in Sardinia, and declared the WRC 2005 a significant step forward over the current car.
“Although I was unlucky on Rally Mexico last year, it's a great event to take part in and I'm really looking forward to going back," he said. "It's a very well run rally - last year the organisers did a very professional job, considering it was their first year in the WRC - and I'd say it's one of the best events of the season.
“The stages seem to suit the Impreza pretty well. We've got a new evolution of the car to launch this time and, hopefully, if we have a clean run with no problems, we've got a good chance of winning. Well, that's the plan. It's all about achieving perfection at every stage of the process, from Phil (Mills) and me to the guys building the cars and the ones working in service too. It's going to be a tough battle out there, I can promise you," he added.
However, predicting a winner for the Mexican event will be a difficult task given that the weather in the run-up to the event will probably be very wet. There were showers in the Leon area at the weekend, and more rain is predicted there today, Wednesday and Thursday.
Traditionally, the current drivers' championship points leaders face a disadvantage on the opening leg of gravel events, as they are first on the road and have to sweep the dry, loose gravel off the stage surface. In turn, cars running down the order benefit from a cleaner road and gain an early advantage on Day One. On Saturday and Sunday, the running order reverts to the overall order.
If the rain continues, however, the loose gravel is likely to be more compacted, which would mean that front-running drivers such as surprise early championship leader Toni Gardemeister (Ford) and Peugeot's Markko Martin should be at less of a disadvantage, while former champions Sébastien Loeb (Citroën), Solberg and Marcus Gronholm (Peugeot) won't benefit from running further down the order.
Original article from Car