Rd.1 Uddeholm Swedish Rally

Production Car World Rally Championship
 
8 to 11 February 2007

LEG THREE

Clean Sweep Opens 2007 P-WRC Season for SUBARU!
SUBARU IMPREZA spec C entrants fill podium on season-opener as Swede Oscar Svedlund takes home victory

11 February 2007
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After a tumultuous three days of drama-filled action, the opening round of the 2007 P-WRC season will record a clean sweep of the podium for SUBARU on the opening - and many consider one of the toughest events in the championship. This season's entry has been widely touted as one of the most exciting in years; and to fill the roster on such a demanding opening event has obvious implications for the season ahead.

'Joker' entry and local specialist Ocsar Svedlund was in the fight all weekend, and ready for any eventuality. And his chance eventually came during the third leg, in what was to become the first time a guest entry had ever won a P-WRC event. It was a superb award for his efforts and pace.

The final day of the 2007 Swedish Rally opened with the 30.45-kilometre Backa 1 stage (SS16), promising some very fast sections leading to tight and twisty bits with snowbanks, followed by more open sections. This was followed by SS17, Malta 1, an 11.25-kilometre test with more of the same. The pair was then repeated after a brief Service before the Karlstad Super Special at 2pm which rounded out the rally.

It was minus 22 degrees Celsius at the Service Park this morning. Under glorious blue skies, the scene was straight out of a Christmas card - though bitingly cold!

In terms of drama on the stages, it was a mess out there in the morning. Early event dominator Kristian Sohlberg fell to fourth on the opener, Toshi Arai went off the road after contact with a snowbank, Alexander Dorosinskiy went out with a broken engine, and Mirco Baldacci went off the road after losing visibility when huge amounts of snow came into the car after he clipped a corner.

Reigning P-WRC champion Nasser Al Attiyah spent the day's tests in a battle with Fumio Nutahara and newcomer to the category Araujo. "I'm enjoying the stages more and more, you know, steadily getting used to this type of surface. The car's working well and we're maintaining a good pace." Al Attiyah went off the road later on in his attempts to take the pair ahead, though managed to salvage two points to finish seventh. "I felt it was worth it to challenge the pair ahead, as we could easily have doubled our points. I'm glad we tried."

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Anton Alen was one of the beneficiaries of Sohlberg's early-morning demotion, but recounted his own dramas, saying: "Obviously I'm disappointed to have had that puncture yesterday, as I see now what could have been. The car ran perfectly though, we had no problems at all. After all that has happened, second place is a fantastic start to the championship."

Kristian Sohlberg's woes were compounded when a drive shaft issue saw him fall down the order on the opening test of the day. He recovered somewhat to run in fourth position for the remainder of the event's stages, rising to third place post-event. "Although I had some trouble earlier today, I'm really impressed with the performance of the Group N SUBARU - and am incredibly excited about the season ahead."

Oscar Svedlund was thrilled with his position and performance here in Sweden, undoubtedly one of the quickest and steadiest competitors in the event. "We've had no problems. When I saw that Krisitan hit trouble I backed off and decided to take it easy to the finish. It's just great to take the victory on my home event."

Toshi Arai, after spending one minute on the far side of a snowbank this morning, got back on the road and ran the rest of leg three without any trouble, eventually finishing in sixth. He had a heck of an event, and was (as usual) laughing all the time. It's been drama after drama for him on this rally, and he's walking away from here with three valuable championship points.

Mirco Baldacci came 10th, and had the following post-event comment: "It was a good challenge this weekend. Unfortunately we completely lost visibility when snow came into the car this morning. Try as we did, it was just a matter of time before we went off - there was simply no visibility whatsoever. I'm looking forward to the rest of the season in the Impreza, and can't wait to get testing before Mexico."

His brother Loris continued his Swedish Rally Master Class, equating himself admirably with an 11th place finish after enduring numerous challenges over the course of the weekend. The Italian driver also gained invaluable experience on every stage of the three-day event.

George Donaldson - STI Group N Project General Manager:

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"We come away from this event with a clean sweep of the podium - We've had a great weekend. Our cars have been incredibly competitive, and we can leave Sweden knowing that all the work that we and our teams have done on the Impreza has increased the competitiveness in the Scandinavian events. It's been a ding-dong battle all weekend and I'm happy that we are so fast. This has been another classic Swedish Rally, with a massive amount of drama and an incredible pace from the front-runners. Hiding in amongst all the action on this event was a great performance from Mirco Baldacci, whose small mistake with a misted windscreen towards the end of the event cost him a probable podium position. It was a great performance, and Mirco will prove himself to be a real championship contender this year, despite the loss of any points on this event. Looking ahead, we go to Mexico, an event that I feel plays to our strengths. It will be nice to go there with a mechanical advantage as well as having a fantastic set of drivers."

Round 2 of the 2007 P-WRC takes place in four weeks' time in completely contrasting conditions, on Corona Rally Mexico.


Pos Driver Car Name Time   Diff  
1 Oscar SVEDLUND SUBARU IMPREZA WRX STI 3:25:29.2 0.0
2 Anton ALÉN SUBARU IMPREZA WRX STI 3:26:07.8 +38.6
3 Kristian SOHLBERG SUBARU IMPREZA WRX STI 3:27:11.9 +1:42.7
4 Armindo ARAUJO Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 3:30:07.7 +4:38.5
5 Fumio NUTAHARA Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 3:30:34.9 +5:05.7
6 Toshihiro ARAI SUBARU IMPREZA WRX STI 3:33:29.7 +8:00.5
7 Nasser Saleh AL-ATTIYAH SUBARU IMPREZA WRX STI 3:45:19.0 +19:49.8
8 Fabio FRISIERO Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 3:50:02.9 +24:33.7
9 Andreas AIGNER Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 3:50:54.2 +25:25.0
10 Mirco BALDACCI SUBARU IMPREZA WRX STI 3:50:55.7 +25:26.5