17 May 08
Subaru World Rally Team principal David Richards says a lack of grip, caused by a failure to get Pirelli’s hard-compound tyre working correctly, was one of main reasons Petter Solberg lost 40 seconds, and third place, on Saturday’s opening stage.
Having slipped to seventh on SS7, Solberg dropped out of the top-10 on the next stage after stopping to change a puncture 10km before the finish line. Solberg gave no interviews when he returned to the midday service after SS9 and instead directed all questions to the team.
“The puncture and the time lost was frustrating for Petter and disappointing for the team,” said Richards. “We have an issue with the new hard tyres we’re running this year and the way we get temperature into them so they work correctly. Our car is very light on tyres - it doesn’t demand much of them - which will be great on hotter rallies where tyre wear is a big issue. But when it’s cold and slippery, like this morning, it presents a different set of issues. So a feature that is a virtue under most circumstances is a problem in cold and damp conditions like we have here.”
Solberg experienced damper problems on the previous round in Jordan but Richards denied today’s problems were related. “It’s not a problem with the dampers at all,” he said. “It’s an issue of tuning the car to the circumstances. We have a new set of tyres this year and tuning them to the car - that’s the real problem. But everyone has the same tyres, we just have to adapt and work around it.”