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Petter Solberg, known all over the world as ‘Hollywood’ for his spectacular style, ended his first weekend of rallycross after the semi-final, when a power steering failure meant that he had to wrestle his 600-horsepower Citroen DS3 Supercar across the finish line at Lydden Hill.

The English circuit, which hosted the very first rallycross race back in 1967, was the venue for the opening round of the new-look FIA European Rallycross Championship.
 
The main day of competition at Lydden Hill comprised two heats and then the semi-final for Petter, as the power steering failure deprived him of a place in the final. As usual, ‘Hollywood’ provided extremes of action in every session.
 
For once, the Petter Solberg RX Team’s mechanics got the chance to catch-up on some much-needed sleep last night, after changing the car’s clutch last night following a failure yesterday. So they hoped that any mechanical problems with the all-carbon fibre car might be behind them by the time they got to the heats. But it was not to be.
 
At the start line of the first heat, the Citroen’s driveshaft broke – meaning that it suddenly speared right and Petter could not avoid contact with the barrier. The Petter Solberg RX Team DS3 sustained damage to the front-right of the car, meaning that the mechanics had to change the driveshaft as well as fit a new bodywork section.
 
The second heat though resulted in yet another victory for Petter, following his triumph in the second qualifying heat yesterday. From the depths of dejection, there was suddenly joy in the Norwegian camp.
 
 Starting from the left hand side of the track, Petter made his speed and commitment into the corners count, by taking the lead of the six-lap race with two laps to go. Despite strong opposition from Sweden’s Stig-Olov Walfridsson, the 2003 World Rally Champion triumphed in a thrilling encounter and earned himself a place in the semi-final.
 
Before the semi-final the team changed the car’s centre differential, which was malfunctioning throughout the day and not giving Petter the instant turn-in he needed. He got a good start in the semi-final and was all set to go through to the final, but then on lap two of six the power steering suddenly failed, leaving Petter to fight a losing battle on the twisty circuit. He never gave up until the end and crossed the finish line with his arms aching but there would be no place in the final. This time…
 
“People talk about an emotional rollercoaster and today I found out what that means,” said ‘Hollywood’, surrounded by his family and many fans at the end of the Lydden Hill event. “I think we have experienced every emotion in the last week or so. After the problems we had yesterday I couldn’t believe it when the driveshaft broke in the first heat: there was nothing I could do. But thanks to the hard work of all the guys – who have been more amazing than I can say – we were winning again in the next heat. Unfortunately we couldn’t go through to the final because of the power steering problem, but with a brand new car that was built in less than three weeks, you have to expect mechanical things like this from time to time. It’s been an incredible journey and we’ve all learned so much. The big positive is that we clearly have the pace and I’d like to thank everyone who supported us: we’ve received a fantastic welcome. Now we just need to get the car completely sorted and we’ll come back stronger than ever.”
 
The next round of the FIA European Rallycross Championship takes place in Montalegre, Portugal, from 27-28 April.

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