Finish: Solberg's dream double

Petter Solberg survived the final stage in Wales to become the 2003 World Rally Champion. He took a crushing win on the Margam Park test to ensure he won the rally and took the title by a single point from Sébastien Loeb

Finish: Solberg's dream double

"Incredible," said Solberg, who beat Loeb on the stage by 11.1 seconds. "I've done it! Now I am the best in the world. I can't take it in yet; I was so focussed the whole day. I wasn't thinking about the championship because so many things could have gone wrong."

Solberg's earlier warnings of last-minute dramas proved justified as Colin McRae suffered a puncture halfway through the stage. A quick tyre change ensured the Scot kept his fourth place, but meant that Tommi Mäkinen could cruise to a podium in his last rally.

"I don't know what happened," said McRae, who says he won't be competing on next year's WRC. "I thought something was broken on the front but it turned out to be a puncture. I've enjoyed the weekend, but that's enough for me for the moment."

The retiring Mäkinen was delighted with his fairytale podium after an extremely trying couple of years at Subaru, but admitted that he too had come close to embarassment on the final stage.

"The result is unbelievable," said the Finnish legend. "But we had a huge moment at the midpoint of the stage. I got the news of Colin's puncture and I think I lost my concentration! We stopped just short of a big hole - it was very close. The last three days have been so enjoyable."



Loeb finally lost the rally by a healthy 43.6 seconds, but regretted the conflict of interests with his Citroen team, who asked him to back off after team-mate Carlos Sainz went out on Friday. With hindsight, McRae's fourth place in the team's third entry would have done the job for Citroen.

"It was very difficult mentally," commented Loeb. "Concentration was hard because I had to push for my own championship but at the same time be careful for the team to win the manufacturers' title. For me I would have preferred the drivers' championship, but I will try again next year."

So Citroen took the manufacturers' crown by 15 points from Peugeot, but Solberg becomes Norway's first World Rally Champion. He brings the drivers' title back to Subaru after it spent a year away with Marcus Grönholm.

"I never thought I would be back here as world champion after winning my first rally here last year," said Solberg. "I'm so happy for our team, and Tommi for his third place."


Petter Solberg (Subaru) 3h28m58.1s
Sébastien Loeb (Citroen) +43.6s
Tommi Mäkinen (Subaru) +2m58.8s
Colin McRae (Citroen) +5m28.1s
François Duval (Ford) +7m16.1s
Freddy Loix (Peugeot) +8m06.5s

shares
comments
Loeb closes at the death
Previous article

Loeb closes at the death

Next article

Rally GB leaders

Rally GB leaders
The key steps on Rovanpera's romp to a history-making WRC title Plus

The key steps on Rovanpera's romp to a history-making WRC title

With only cameo roles played by legendary Sebastiens Ogier and Loeb, Kalle Rovanpera ushered in the new hybrid era for the World Rally Championship by becoming its youngest champion. Here's how Toyota's Flying Finn crushed the competition, led by Hyundai's departing star Ott Tanak

WRC
Dec 1, 2022
How trailblazer Kalle Rovanpera has ripped up the WRC record book Plus

How trailblazer Kalle Rovanpera has ripped up the WRC record book

At the tender age of 22, Kalle Rovanpera is redefining what’s possible to achieve in rallying and inspiring a new legion of fans as a result. The newly-crowned World Rally Championship title-winner and his peers reflect on his ability and the start of his success in the top tier

WRC
Nov 26, 2022
How Hyundai and Neuville gatecrashed Toyota's homecoming party Plus

How Hyundai and Neuville gatecrashed Toyota's homecoming party

Thierry Neuville signed off the 2022 World Rally Championship season with his second win of the season in Japan after Toyota rival Elfyn Evans suffered a late puncture. With Sebastien Ogier and Kalle Rovanpera also delayed by punctures and incidents, it opened the door for Neuville and Ott Tanak to record Hyundai's second 1-2 of the season in Toyota's own backyard

WRC
Nov 14, 2022
The message a WRC stalwart sent which its new king couldn’t answer Plus

The message a WRC stalwart sent which its new king couldn’t answer

Sebastien Ogier might be the outgoing World Rally champion, but it didn’t stop him reminding everyone of the skills that made him an eight-time world champion. As victory at Rally Spain led Toyota’s charge to a titles clean sweep, it did pose a question to newly-crowned champion Kalle Rovanpera which he could not answer

WRC
Oct 24, 2022
Autosport gets to grips as a WRC co-driver Plus

Autosport gets to grips as a WRC co-driver

The majority of headlines may focus on the exploits of drivers in the World Rally Championship, but the challenges facing their co-drivers are no less demanding. Autosport got in the passenger seat with Toyota Gazoo Racing to find out just what it takes to succeed

WRC
Oct 6, 2022
How Rally New Zealand encapsulated record-breaking Rovanpera’s WRC title charge Plus

How Rally New Zealand encapsulated record-breaking Rovanpera’s WRC title charge

Kalle Rovanpera’s coronation as the new World Rally Championship king had been a long time coming, only to be postponed by hiccups in Belgium and Greece. But at Rally New Zealand the “Full Send” Finn demonstrated exactly how he's been able to rewrite the rallying record book as he stormed to victory to become the youngest ever world champion

WRC
Oct 3, 2022
How a Toyota lifeline reignited Lappi's WRC career Plus

How a Toyota lifeline reignited Lappi's WRC career

Motorsport can be brutal at times. One moment a driver can be the next big thing, but it can spiral in the other direction so quickly. Thankfully, sometimes drivers receive second chances. And Esapekka Lappi has taken his World Rally Championship lifeline in both hands

WRC
Sep 28, 2022
How team orders could make Hyundai's historic Acropolis Rally a Greek tragedy Plus

How team orders could make Hyundai's historic Acropolis Rally a Greek tragedy

Thierry Neuville led a maiden Hyundai 1-2-3 in the World Rally Championship, as the previously soft i20 N became a battle-hardened Greek warrior at the Acropolis Rally. But with team orders in play between the winner and Hyundai’s title protagonist Ott Tanak, could the result come back to haunt the team?

WRC
Sep 12, 2022