The Norwegian was chasing down Mikko Hirvonen in the battle for third place when he went off the road on a fast left-hander, dropped down into a small ditch and ploughed into vines. As he fought to regain control, he shot back across the road, into vines again before striking and felling a telegraph pole, which inflicted damage to the front-right corner of his Ford Fiesta RS WRC and forced his retirement.
“All the driving before was absolutely perfect,” said Solberg, who won the FIA World Rally Championship title in 2003. “I knew the road was going up on the right again but there were leaves on the windscreen and I couldn’t see. From the outside it looks like ‘why don’t I brake’ but I knew the approximate distance and I was waiting for an open area. I went more on the throttle to get back up to the road again so I don’t get stuck but that’s obviously the decision you take in a split second.”
Solberg continued: “I didn’t know it was an electric pole I hit, I thought it was a normal pole. It was a big hit and we broke a steering arm and a TCA. Obviously when you look at the pictures it’s unbelievable. For sure something happened and obviously I have to look with Chris what happened because we are a team but nothing broke on the car.”
Solberg started day two 0.7s down on Hirvonen and was convinced that a podium place would be his. “I was quite confident for third place,” he said. “I like Tarmac a lot, I like this rally a lot and we have improved the car so it was hugely disappointing. I knew everything wasn’t perfect yesterday but it would have been amazing today. I don’t know if I could have done more than third but I was on good form and the car was very good. It was very calm before [the crash], nothing spectacular at all. This is rallying but I was not expecting it.”