18 Apr 08
Petter Solberg hopes his experience of the roads in Jordan and the local knowledge of his co-driver and team will help him on the upcoming rally.
Solberg and the Subaru World Rally Team head to Jordan with the benefit of more Middle East Rally understanding than most.
The Norwegian and his co-driver Phil Mills drove the Jordan Rally recce in 2007 when it was a WRC candidate event. In addition, Mills has a lot of competition experience in the Middle East Rally Championship and scored his first international rally win on the Jordan Rally in 1994 alongside Mohammed Bin Sulayem.
Solberg can also call upon the know-how of Subaru team principal David Richards and his Prodrive organisation. Richards has been closely linked with motorsport in the Middle East since 1976 when he helped organise rallies in the Gulf, while Prodrive secured three Middle East Rally Championships with Saeed Al-Hajri.
“I did the recce in Jordan last year and I was very happy to have the chance to look at the roads, said Solberg. “It will be a new event for everyone so we are doing all we can now, using the notes from the recce to prepare as best we can and try and be in the best shape for the rally. It may be possible to do the rally well with new pace notes and no experience of the roads, but I’m just trying to do things 110 per cent, and if the recce gives us even a slight advantage, it was worth it.”
For Chris Atkinson, however, the rally will be a completely new challenge. “I haven’t been to Jordan and don’t really know what to expect,” he said. “I’ve heard the roads are in quite good condition, but it’s going to be difficult first time there having not done the recce last year. The fact that no-one has competed here before may even things up a little, but we know that the same guys will always be fast anywhere.”
Atkinson is enjoying his most successful start to a WRC season and clinched his third podium from four rallies on the last round in Argentina. But despite his recent success the Australian isn’t making any wild predictions about his chances in Jordan. “At this part of the season it’s all about linking events to build momentum for the next few rounds,” he said.