It had been a while since I'd been so excited about starting a round of the World Rally Championship. Two things had me really fired up ahead of last week's Catalunya Rally: missing the previous round in Australia, and driving the Citroen C4 WRC.
Everybody knows what the C4 is like, how good the car is and what it can do. I only saw exactly how true that was when I tested it for two days on asphalt before Spain. But I truly saw that when I set my first of four fastest times on the rally. When that happened, I can't begin to tell you how happy I was.
I went from being at zero with this car to being fastest quicker than I thought. I went about the first day of the rally strategically, pushing harder as I felt more comfortable and then there we were, fastest on asphalt for the first time since this event [when it was wet] five years ago. Incredible.
Petter Solberg © LAT
The good thing for me was that the fastest times came on stages where everybody was still pushing hard and trying. Ok, maybe they weren't driving at 110 per cent, but then neither was I. The other bonus was equalling stage records from last year. We were the only ones to do that, that's something I was really pleased with.
Of course, it would have been nice to have grabbed third place and been on the podium, but I am satisfied with what I achieved from Catalunya. I made a couple of mistakes on the final day, on the first stage there was a half-spin and then on the last stage I didn't warm the brakes enough.
I noticed on the startline that they weren't hot enough, which meant we missed the first two corners. Beating Mikko [Hirvonen] was always going to be hard work - and, fair's fair, Mikko drove a very good event to take third place. I'm determined that it won't be the same on the next event.
Rally GB is the event which I have been focused on. This is the one that I want. We have a two-day test before the rally - I will be fighting at the top on that event. Rally GB means so much to me, it was where I won my first ever WRC round and where I won the title in 2003. It's also the home event for Phil [Mills, co-driver]. We have so much support there, it almost feels like my home rally as well.
When we drive rallies like Catalunya on the control tyre, it's hard to make a difference. We are all at the limit of the tyre and the drivers at the front are all pretty much all going at the same speed and making the same speed.
Some people were asking me if I would have been at the limit with the tyre if I had driven the Xsara WRC. Forget the Xsara. It's old news. It's yesterday. I don't have a clue where I would have been with the Xsara. The difference is so big between the two cars, there's no point talking about the Xsara any more.
Moving into the C4 is the best thing I could do. It has saved my life. This rally in Catalunya has turned out to be a very personal thing for me. It's nothing to do with saving my career or anything like that, this was about me having the feeling again for what I am good for and what I can do in a rally car. This is what I have been trying to do for a very long time. And this is just the start.
Wait for Wales in a couple of weeks.
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