Solberg sixth and Rossi eleventh


Solberg consolidated his position, further improving the Impreza before the Rally GB.
Valentino Rossi proved his determination, making up ground steadily to finish 11th.

Hamilton (NZ) 19 November 2006 - Subaru and Pirelli take away a sixth place finish for Petter Solberg and an eleventh place for Valentino Rossi on his 'real' World Rally debut in New Zealand, the 15th round of the World Rally Championship. The Norwegian used the final day to reinforce his sixth place, after losing too much time with problems on the opening day to close the gap to his rivals. Nonetheless, Petter refused to give up, setting some excellent times on the six stages that made up the final leg. For his part, Valentino Rossi continued to make excellent progress, increasing his pace to end smoothly the race with his Subaru running on P Zero Racing tyres.

After the rally was over, Petter Solberg concluded: "Sixth place was certainly not the target I had in mind before the start of the event, but I am still optimistic despite the various problems that held me up on Friday and Saturday. The performance of the car is good, as can be seen from our times today, which were comparable to those of the frontrunners. Our Pirelli P Zero "K" tyres proved extremely effective on all the slippery mud, even though they were not quite enough to allow me to keep pace with the leaders consistently."
Carlo Cassina, Valentino Rossi's co-driver, was pleased with the progress made by his 'pupil'. He commented "On the stages around Hamilton today, on the fresh mud that covered the stages following last night's rain, the pace was a lot quicker and the times were coming to us without pushing too hard." Given that Rossi had no time to gain any experience from the 2002 Rally Great Britain, when he retired in the opening stages, Cassina rightly described New Zealand as "Valentino's real debut on the World Rally Championship." It was a debut that ended with a respectable eleventh place overall in his Subaru Impreza WRC equipped with Pirelli P Zero tyres.

Mario Isola, Rally Manager for Pirelli Competizioni, said: "On the one hand, we have the Subaru of Solberg that set some encouraging times as the rally progressed, and on the other hand we have a more than positive outcome for Valentino Rossi. Eleventh place is an excellent result, especially when you consider that he was never aiming for raw speed, but instead to gain experience. Now we will concentrate our efforts in preparing for the Rally Great Britain. In a few days' time our Pirelli engineers will start the initial tests in order for us to supply the most suitable P Zero tyres for this tricky event?"

Rally New Zealand final classification, round 15 of the World Rally Championship:
1. Gronholm (Ford) 4h02'30''7
2. Hirvonen (Ford) +56''0
3. Stohl (Peugeot) +2'39''3
6. Solberg (Subaru) +4'57''1
11. Rossi (Subaru) +20'38''8

For more information and pictures on Pirelli's motorsport activities visit: www.pirellicompetizioni.com

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