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Solberg smash benefits Burns

David Williams in Ajaccio
Friday October 17, 2003
The Guardian

Richard Burns inched closer to the world championship before the Tour of Corsica had even begun when Petter Solberg all but destroyed his Subaru in the final pre-rally test.
Solberg, of Norway, is one of a quartet of drivers bunched at the top of the points table and badly needs a result after retiring from the San Remo rally a fortnight ago. Instead, he demolished a telegraph pole and damaged his car so badly that Subaru would have flown in a replacement last night if the rules had not for bidden substituting cars after the pre-rally technical checks.

His team-mate Tommi Makinen offered to stand down and let Solberg take his car instead, but hours of labour made the original usable again. Solberg is unlikely to be in expansive form, however.

It was a reminder that with three rallies left, errors risk being brutally punished, but after an agonising San Remo in which he never came to terms with the car, Burns feels that the pressure is off.

Finishing seventh sliced his championship lead to two points, and with two more Tarmac rallies before the Rally of Great Britain, he shares the widespread view that the French Citroen driver and San Remo victor Sebastien Loeb is the favourite.

"In San Remo, I wasn't working that well with the car and there was a pile of stuff with the championship. I feel a lot more released. Now I can say, 'Sod it.' It's balls out, but you've still got to be there at the end."

Despite his greater experience, Burns has every reason to see himself as the underdog. Loeb has never previously been a title contender, but the former schoolboy gymnastics champion rarely flinches under pressure.

Endquote


I wonder if he was hanging out with McRae the night before.

Cheers

M.Samli
 

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Well, sometimes the expert prognosticators don't get it exactly right, do they?

Kent Gardam
 
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