Solberg bewildered by pace

Defending champion Petter Solberg has admitted that he's surprised by his lack of speed on this weekend's Rallye de France which already looks certain to guarantee title favourite Sebastien Loeb (Citroen) his first WRC crown.

Solberg bewildered by pace

Solberg is currently lagging in seventh spot after the first leg over two minutes off the pace of rally leader Francois Duval (Ford). The Norwegian must win this weekend's rally and have Loeb finish no higher than fifth if he is to keep his championship hopes alive.

"I've had a difficult afternoon, but I really don't have any explanation for what the problem is," Solberg said. "It was very slippery this morning and I had to drive cautiously according to the amount of grip I had. We thought the road would dry out quicker than it did, but in fact it was about 90 per cent damp tarmac and I think we chose a tyre that was too hard.

"On the second run through, it was even worse. I'm disappointed by my gap to the leaders, but that's how it is. It's very difficult out there and I'm going to try my best. That's the only thing I can do."

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