Petter sets up WRC title

It's been a steady afternoon in Wales Rally GB, with Petter Solberg completing an utterly dominant day by taking the three stages after the midday service. Solberg has gradually pulled out a 40.8 second advantage on Sébastien Loeb

Petter sets up WRC title

With just the harmless Cardiff Superspecial stage to go tonight, Solberg looks to have wrapped up this event barring any problems tomorrow. Loeb has had no answers for the Subaru driver, who will be World Champion unless the Frenchman gets past him.

Talk in the paddock was of Citroën's order to Loeb to keep the car on the road to ensure the manufacturers' title for the team, but Loeb's deficit seems to be a representative one regardless.

"We pushed on SS12 but took nothing out of Solberg's lead," said a resigned Loeb, who said he had also tried to push in the morning in spite of poor tyre choice. "So I tried to back off a bit in the next one. The pressure is getting to me now."

After the two were split by just a tenth on Stage 12, Solberg delivered killer blows by taking out 6.5 seconds on Loeb at Margam Park (SS13) and then another 9.5 seconds on SS14 at Resolfen.

There's more cheer for Subaru with Tommi Makinen retaining his surprise third place over familiar foe Colin McRae. There was rarely much to choose between these two as they traded times all afternoon. They go into the superspecial 6.4s apart, although almost not in the same rally as the leaders.



"It's like the old days and I am enjoying it," said McRae. "But we can't go too much quicker at the moment. I'd rather be safe than sorry." A podium would be of enormous value to McRae's future prospects, but also a happy ending for Tommi Mäkinen's career.

There's not much competition for Harri Rovanpera in fifth place. He's just about two minutes behind McRae and more than a minute ahead of François Duval's Ford. All things being equal, then, the strongest battle going into tomorrow is likely to be that for third.

Solberg is showing no sign of nerves going into a tricky Sunday: "Everything is perfect all the time. And I am really enjoying this. Normally I change the settings a lot but I'm leaving them alone here. I am getting stronger all weekend - a strategy that has worked for me all year."

There will be a final report after the Cardiff Superspecial, which gets underway at 1938 GMT today (Saturday).


Petter Solberg (Subaru) 2h46m50.3s
Sébastien Loeb (Citroën) +40.8s
Tommi Mäkinen (Subaru) +2m23.7s
Colin McRae (Citroen) +2m30.1s
Harri Rovanpera (Peugeot) +4m30.6s
François Duval (Ford) +5m52.0s

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