Solberg tops shakedown

World Rally champion Petter Solberg's quest to win his third Rally GB on the spin got off to a good start today in Wales when the Subaru driver was quickest through the official shakedown stage for this weekend's event, which begins tomorrow morning

Solberg tops shakedown

Tipped by Britain's own former world champion Colin McRae to win an event that he has dominated in recent years, Solberg has been on tremendous form in the WRC. The Norwegian was uncatchable two weeks ago in Japan, and was quick on the asphalt stages of Germany before his massive accident.

With five rallies left, Solberg has to make up a deficit of 30 points to championship leader Sebastien Loeb. It's a tall order but in many ways it means that means the Subaru ace has nothing to lose and can simply go for it.

Ford's Markko Martin was second quickest in his Focus, just a tenth slower than Solberg. The Estonian is another still in with a shout of the title, just one point behind the reigning champion, but he has not won since the Rally Mexico early in the year and like Solberg, has to rely on misfortune befalling Loeb.

Marcus Gronholm was third fastest ahead of Loeb. The Peugeot 307 driver has been fast enough to win everywhere this year and he will be just as quick on the stages of Wales, but his main concern is his new five-speed gearbox, which has proved fragile so far this year.

Loeb's Citroen team-mate Carlos Sainz was fifth quickest ahead of Harri Rovanpara's Peugeot. Francois Duval was seventh quickest for Ford ahead of youngster Daniel Carlsson.

Petter Solberg Subaru 2m20.4s
Markko Martin Ford 2m20.5s
Marcus Gronholm Peugeot 2m20.8s
Sebastien Loeb Citroen 2m21.2s
Carlos Sainz Citroen 2m21.6s
Harri Rovanpera Peugeot 2m22.4s
Francois Duval Ford 2m22.5s
Daniel Carlsson Peugeot 2m23.5s
Mikko Hirvonen Subaru 2m23.7s
Toni Gardemeister Skoda 2m25.8s

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