09 Apr 08
The Subaru World Rally Team has confirmed that Petter Solberg’s dramatic last day retirement from Rally Argentina was caused by a broken connection on his car’s main electrical wiring harness.
Solberg and co-driver Phil Mills began the final day of Rally Argentina in second place and on course to record their best result since Rally Portugal in 2007. But midway through the first stage of the morning their Impreza WRC2007 coasted to a halt after losing all electrical power.
The team’s operations director Paul Howarth said the car had been examined in detail since it returned to the UK from Argentina on Friday 2 April.
“We’re still investigating the exact circumstances of the failure as it’s not something we’ve seen before,” said Howarth. “We can say for sure that the failure was caused by a broken connection on the main wiring harness but we’re still looking into why it broke. The harnesses on our two cars for Jordan Rally have been double checked and we’ve made a small modification to the area that failed.”
Howarth said the nature of the problem, and the inaccessible location of the wiring harness, meant Solberg was unable to make any sort of repairs on the stage.
“There was no prior warning, it just stopped and that was it,” said Solberg. “Up to that point the car had been working well and there was no indication that anything was wrong. But then the dash screen went blank, the engine stopped and that was it. It was quite shocking. Once we pulled over we checked the normal things. Phil was on the satellite phone to the team while I checked all the connections I could - starting at the battery. I couldn’t reach too much of the main loom because it’s buried so deep underneath the car. In the end we ran out of time and had to stop. I was very disappointed of course, but I accepted what had happened. I think Phil was more upset than me - two cars on the podium would have meant so much to all of us in the team.”
Solberg said that despite the retirement, his Subaru Impreza WRC2007 had performed more strongly in Argentina than ever before. “The car worked properly for one and half stages on Saturday morning and all four in the afternoon and that was very good,” he said. “Okay, sometimes it wasn’t perfect but in general I was very happy with things, we could attack harder than we’ve ever managed to before."
Given continued progress with the car, Solberg believes a win might be possible on the next round in Jordan. “David Richards and the whole team are flat out at the moment, they're working very hard and I’m very impressed with how things are progressing,” he said. “Our performance in Argentina was good for our motivation. In Jordan I’m sure that if the car is right we could fight for a win. It’s up to the team to get the car right before the start - then it’s up to me.”