After falling short on the two recent asphalt events, former WRC champion Petter Solberg hopes to end the season with a victory in the Telstra Rally Australia, an event that will suit his Subaru.
The Norwegian will want to defend second place in the drivers’ standings from Ford’s Markko Martin, who is three points behind, this weekend. After a sub-standard season, Subaru will finish third in the manufacturers’ standings behind Citroën and Ford.
“This will be a special rally,” said Solberg. “I’m glad to be getting back to gravel where everything works well. I feel I’m really ready to get out there again and do the best I can, I’m hungry for success. Getting second in the championship will be like a victory for me, and will make me want more next year for sure.
“I think Markko will be going for it, and Sébastien (Loeb, the new champion) has nothing to lose. It will be a hell of a fight. It’s one of my favourite rallies. I won it last year, and it would be great to repeat that. It would be a good way to end the year,” he added.
Subaru team principal David Lapworth recently said Australia was probably one of the events for which the Impreza WRC 04 was most suited, but added “this is a rally where, if it stays dry, the effect of running further down the order is the biggest. As more gravel gets cleaned away by each car, the pace will get faster. By the time we get to the stages on Sunday, you may see two seconds a kilometre difference between the first and fifteenth cars on the road. Tyre choice will also be a challenge, as it’s likely to be a bit drier than normal in Perth this year.
“The nature of the stages are perfect for Petter, and he thrives on the tricky stuff. We’ve been very strong in the last three gravel events. That said, Sébastien was very good last year and has nothing to lose now. All the top drivers will go there with the aim of winning the last rally of the year, so it should be a good fight,” Lapworth added.