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Solberg says he was lucky to escape a big crash after stage five retirement

Petter Solberg Ford driver Petter Solberg has admitted he was lucky to escape a big crash when he went off the road in sixth gear on the fifth stage of Rally Argentina today.

Solberg was forced to retire from the lead of a World Rally Championship round for the second time in succession after hitting a rock on the fourth stage of the event.

He continued to drive after the impact, but went off the road over a crest six miles later in the stage.

The Norwegian said: "This is very disappointing, but I was driving in the ruts, in the right place on the road and the rock was in the rut. What could I do?

"I couldn't avoid it, nothing. The steering was bent, but we carried on and I pushed hard not to lose time.

"We were flat out when we went over the crest. The car landed, but the steering arm broke on the landing and we went off. It was very lucky not to be bigger when you have sixth gear and off the road."

Solberg and co-driver Chris Patterson fixed the damaged steering arm and got back in the car to continue - only to discover the impact with the rock had damaged the steering as well. They were then told to park the car and retire from the day.

Ford team director Malcolm Wilson said: "We've just thrown it away again. It's very frustrating."

Solberg will return to the event tomorrow.

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