WRC champion Petter Solberg is favored to score a hat trick of British Rally wins this weekend, but Subaru boss David Lapworth doesn’t anticipate conditions to be muddy, as was the case last year.

by Paul Simmons
WRC champion Petter Solberg is favored to score a hat trick of British Rally wins this weekend, but Subaru boss David Lapworth doesn’t anticipate conditions to be muddy, as was the case last year.


Lapworth this week said that the only prediction he could make was that the WRC rally in Wales will be an unpredictable one. This year’s move from November to an early September date (it is now the 12th rather than the 16th round) potentially increases the range of weather conditions, and could actually make the event even more tricky for teams than before.


"In November we knew there'd be mud, so we knew exactly which type of tyre to use," he said. "However, in September it may be 25 degrees C and dry, with hard-based dusty stages, or it could rain heavily for three days and the stages could be similar to those in November. That's going to be the interesting challenge of the rally, because it's like a new event, but a very unpredictable new event.


Lapworth also said that the new rules governing pre-event tyre limits and nomination could also pose problems. "Tyre selection is likely to be difficult," he said. "If the weather is constant, then teams will be compromised by the number of tyres available to them.


"If it's dry, no-one will have much experience about which tyres work best and what level of tyre wear to expect on the stages. It's been a wet summer so few people will have had the opportunity to test in dry conditions. Certainly our testing was cooler and damper than it may be in the forests next week."


Solberg, reigning world champion and the winner in Japan, loves the UK-based rally, and is looking forward to the 394-kilometre/19-stage event, especially in view of the fact that the drier conditions are likely to increase the average speeds considerably. The three-day rally starts in Wales' capital city, Cardiff, with a Super Special Stage, before heading for familiar roads in the South of the country.


"I'm looking ahead now and getting ready for Wales Rally GB," said Solberg, who currently lies second in the drivers' standings. " It will be interesting this year due to the date change, but it doesn't matter to me if it's dry or wet on the stages - I love it! It is my favourite rally of the year. It is absolutely the best rally in the world and I have such great memories of being there. I can't wait to get back."


One thing is certain, though: Solberg’s team has a great record in the event. Of the last nine WRC Rally GBs, the Subaru Impreza has won seven, and Solberg is hoping to make it three in a row on his personal scorecard.