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 Re: Most improved driver of 2009? by Gregor

27-May-09 12:26 AM 

You forgot to add "Imagine where Petter would be if he had gotten a 307!"

 Re: Most improved driver of 2009? by Chris B

28-May-09 06:12 PM 

Maybe he gets a 307. The rumours are getting ever stronger he will swap his Xsara for a 307. And this would be very interesting in several ways.

Before the season there was already talk of both Solbergs starting with 307s this year. I actually thought the idea was bad, because the 307 definitely has not seen any development since early 2005. Therefore I would feel the 307 cannot better what it had with privateers in 2005 with Stohls many podiums and maybe we should leave it at that, all the 307 can do now is worsen its name again. Then again, there were several privateer drivers as Stohl, Gardemeister, who insisted after driving both the 307 was still faster than the last spec 2006 Xsara! Given that Petters perfomances this year are the more amazing! You could also say Citroen and Ford would be stupid if their 2009 cars were not faster than their 2006 ones, hence a C4 should be clearly faster than a Xsara and a 307, while I do believe the 307 was eventually faster than a Xsara. Still, considering that, Petter gets more out of the Xsara than could be expected.

That leads to the next interesting aspect. Petter is thinking of switching to the 307 because he can't expect more help from Citroen. Which is clear. Once again Citroen would look stupid if their outdated model would beat the current model. Plus Olivier Quesnel would have to answer questions why a privateer can beat Citroens highly paid works drivers. A switch to Peugeot might solve this problem, as for Peugeot there is no newer WRCar and no works driver, if Peugeot wants their car to look good they would throw all weight behind Petter. This however is contradictionary to Peugeot apparently not liking the FIA, they do not even help at all in PWRC - see despite the 207 being the currently most successful S2000 car in quantity as well as results, it is the only main S2000 car NOT seen in PWRC this year. At the same time, maybe the 307 is faster than the Xsara, but to get it close to 2009 cars it definitely would need some development again and I do not see any reason why Peugeot would put money and effort on a car that is no longer sold on the road and even in WRC is banned within a year now.

Still, interesting scenario for more than one reason I think. At Petter current form I could believe him driving a 307 onto the podium, but even as a Peugeot fan, I would rate this to happen as an unlikely sensation.

 Re: Most improved driver of 2009? by teamanager

3-Jun-09 05:18 PM 

No argument that Petter Solberg is going well in the Xsara, and I agree with Chris that this is for the most part the fact that he is in a better car - or at least a more consistent and well developed car. I suspect that Petter isnt having to cope with a car that changes event to event as new set-ups are tried.

But - and there are always buts - Gronholms form in the Subaru in Portugal suggests that the Subaru may not be as bad as we thought. Last year it lacked development, and was maybe rushed competition before it was ready - certainly Prodrive seemed reluctant to get it out there, and I got the impression that they didnt want it on the front line until it was ready. I suspect the powers that be in Japan demanded its appearance. Who knows how well it might have gone this year in the hands of both Solberg and Atkinson - and maybe Gronholm

Id like to see Gronholm out a few more times in the car before making any form of judgement. One rally can throw up a fluke result, but wed have a better picture after half a dozen events.

Has anyone heard whether Gronholm might run the car again

Most improved driver this year I dont know. The overall level of competition has fallen off so badly over the past few years its hard to tell if anyone has actually improved.

 Re: Most improved driver of 2009? by Gregor

4-Jun-09 10:20 AM 

Gronholm will be driving a new Fiesta at Pikes Peak this year to help promote Ford's re-launch of the car in the US and Canada, so I would not expect him at any other events until the end of summer.

 Re: Most improved driver of 2009? by teamanager

4-Jun-09 07:37 PM 

Not even at Rally Finland ?

 Re: Most improved driver of 2009? by m4d-mike

7-Jun-09 02:49 PM 

to be honest i would love to see gronholm grab a focus or even a c4 and embarass everyone in finland this year it wouls br very entertaining.
he still has a 206 that he drives in national rallies i wonder would that be still homologated for the wrc.

 Re: Most improved driver of 2009? by Chris B

7-Jun-09 03:44 PM 

It's still homologated and it is an ex-works 206 WRC that he owns. That would be interesting, but I don't think he can embarrass everyone in it. The 307 was in back to back tests always faster than the 206, so against modern C4 and Focus it would be difficult. Mind you, even with a 2003 206 I would tip Bosse inside the top5, ahead of Wilson and them lot.

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