Petter Cements 40th WRC Win for Subaru

Petter Cements 40th WRC Win for SubaruFrom Subaru Press [ 18/04/2004 ].
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After a thrilling final leg duel with Marcus Gronholm, Subaru driver Petter Solberg kept his nerve aboard his Impreza WRC2004 to claim his first ever victory on Rally New Zealand. Achieving the sixth WRC win of his career, Petter scored a maximum ten points in the Drivers' and Manufacturers' Championships and now lies three points off the lead of the Drivers' contest. Petter's determined performance over the past three days earned him the Inmarsat Star of the Rally award. Marking a landmark 40th WRC win for Japanese manufacturer Subaru, the victory was also the first for Subaru's all-new Impreza WRC2004 - on only its second competitive outing. Mikko Hirvonen was seventh and collected not only valuable experience of the rally and his car, but important Championship points for both himself and the team. Rounding off a successful event for the Japanese marque, Australian driver Dean Herridge won the Group N classification in a Subaru Impreza WRX STI.

Petter Solberg: It's been a incredible rally, the whole week has just been amazing. I tell you, if there's one man you don't want behind you on the last day, it's Marcus Gronholm and we were both pushing like hell out there. He had trouble, then I had trouble, I'm totally exhausted, but overall it's been really, really good fun. Rallying is a very special sport and to win here is a great feeling. I have so many people to thank in the team at Subaru and Pirelli, but here in New Zealand I'd like to dedicate this win to Possum Bourne.

Mikko Hirvonen: I'm happy, very pleased with what I've achieved. I think I've learned a lot about how to use the car in these conditions, and my driving has come on well. Friday was a little difficult, but since then I made a few small changes and things really improved. Mechanically, the car has been excellent. The competition from the other WRC drivers has been intense, everyone has been pushing as hard as they can and at this stage in my career if I'm able to keep up with the pace and be quicker than them from time to time, then I'm satisfied.

David Lapworth, Team Principal: Today, we've seen an incredible drive from Petter and one of the most exciting finishes I can remember. Petter kept his cool, as he has done for the rest of the rally, and judged his pace perfectly. This event was the focus of much of our work on the new car and we were keeping our fingers crossed that we'd get this result. With today's win under our belts we can look forward to the forthcoming gravel events with a good deal of confidence. It's an extra bonus that Mikko has done exactly what was expected of him. He's learned a good deal about this event and the new car and we're very happy with what he's achieved.

News from Pirelli: Fiore Brivio, Pirelli Tyres Rally Manager We are delighted for Petter and the whole team. This win has confirmed the excellent results we saw in testing of the new 'KP' tyre. Both drivers used it throughout the rally, and clearly demonstrated its potential.

Round five of the FIA 2004 World Rally Championship starts in just over three weeks time, when crews move to the island of Cyprus. Based around the holiday resort of Limassol, the event presents crews with a series of mechanically demanding, rocky, dry stages. Following a ceremonial start on Thursday 13 May at Limassol Promenade, crews will contest a total of 326.68 competitive kilometres over three days. The winning car is expected to cross the finish ramp on Sunday 16 May at 1413hrs.