Solberg and Galli out of luck on the first day in Sardinia

Olbia, 19 May 2006 - The leading drivers on Pirelli tyres were certainly not lucky on day one of the Rally of Italy-Sardinia. A spin early in the first special stage and a whole series of punctures, followed by two wheels being smashed against protruding rock in the finale of the leg zeroed every hope of victory for the leader of the Subaru World Rally Team, Petter Solberg, who will restart tomorrow way down the field, with a yawning gap between him and the rally leaders. Up with the top drivers in fifth place is the Peugeot 307 in Pirelli colours being driven by Gigi Galli, who was also slowed by a spin on the day's first stage: that dropped him down the order, making him lose a number of positions on the leader board. He said, "To avoid a rock on my trajectory, I ended up spinning. But more than anything else, it was difficult to find my rhythm again and that did not simplify matters. Of course, I recovered my dynamism and concentration and pushed hard, which enabled me to close on the podium positions by exploiting the latest evolutions of the Pirelli P Zeros to the full. The rally still has a long way to go, so I will wait until Sunday evening before finally summarising the event&#8230" Chris Atkinson in the second works Subaru Impreza is in a more than positive sixth place and will fight to further improve his position on the second leg. "I was severely slowed by dust that worked its way into the cockpit", the Australian driver remarked. "The adoption of the new evolution P Zeros developed by Pirelli for this rally gave me more grip in the closing stages of the day, but frankly the state of the surfaces on these roads did not allow me to attack the way I wanted to". Paul Hembery, Director of Pirelli Competizioni, commented, "The result of the first leg of Pirelli's home rally certainly does not enthuse. I was convinced that the top drivers supported by Pirelli Competizioni would be able to score a better overall result during the first leg. It is, however, true that bad luck dogged Solberg's Subaru. As far as Galli's Peugeot fielded by Team Bozian is concerned, I believe that car could return to the kind of showing we saw in Argentina on the second leg. A notable performance was that of an optimum private driver also competing on our Pirelli P Zeros, Kristian Solberg. He was able to maintain that performance level throughout the entire day. Kristian was very fast in his Subaru Impreza '05 entered by the Atolye Kazaz team" Rally d'Italia-Sardegna first leg classification, WRC 2006 Event Rally nr. 07: 1. Grnholm (Ford) 1h33'39''9 2. Loeb (Citron) +35''4 3. Hirvonen (Ford) +1'04''2 4. H. Solberg (Peugeot) +1'44''5 5. Sordo (Citron) +2'04''3 6. Galli (Peugeot) +2'06''8 7. Atkinson (Subaru) +2'14''1 For more information and pictures on Pirelli's motorsport activities visit: www.pirellicompetizioni.com