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   Sunday, 17 November, 2002, 15:50 GMT
Solberg takes maiden victory
Petter Solberg's Subaru on final day of the Rally GB
Solberg drove a brilliant final day in his Subaru

Petter Solberg has underlined his status as a star of the future by winning the Rally of Great Britain and taking his maiden victory in the world championship.

The Norwegian drove a brilliant final day in his Subaru to snatch the win from the overnight leader, Ford's Markko Martin.

The defining moment came on the first of Sunday's four stages, when Solberg was more than 20 seconds faster than the Estonian.

Carlos Sainz of Spain was third for Ford, after Richard Burns' fightback was ended when he crashed into a tree on the penultimate stage.

I took some very big risks

Petter Solberg

Solberg's win means he has vaulted up to second place in the championship behind Finn Marcus Gronholm, who dominated the Rally GB before crashing out on Saturday.

Martin had started the final day in a 1.6sec advantage, but lost it to a superb performance from Solberg on the 34-mile Resolfen stage, which gave the Subaru driver a 20.3sec lead.

Solberg said: "This is the biggest thing. I've waited for this for a long time.

"I took some very big risks to achieve that time and didn't always listen to my co-driver - in some places I did my own thing.

Martin said: "Petter clearly had a very good run through that stage. We were average, which was the difference.

"We tried hard but Petter responded even better. Of course I would like to have won but I think Petter deserved it. It's been a great rally for both of us."

Martin clawed back 7.5secs on his rival on stage 15 of the rally, Rheola, only to lose 8.5secs on the next run and a further 3.1sec on the final stage.

Markko Martin on the final day of the Rally of Great Britain
A poor performance early on the last day was Martin's downfall

Burns paid tribute to the performance of Solberg and Martin, both of whom were bidding for the first win of their world championship careers.

"He [Solberg] has done very well. They've both done exceptionally well," Burns said.

"It's a shame perhaps that one of them has to finish second because to drive as fast as they have in these conditions is a fantastic job."

Burns' error on Margam ended what had been an impressive fightback from an error on Friday, when he had lost nearly two minutes.

He had taken 22.7sec off Sainz's advantage through Resolfen on Sunday morning and seemed to have finished the Spaniard off by gaining another 14sec in Rheola.

Burns' retirement is a bitter blow for him - it means he ends a year he started as world champion without a win.

And he has lost the chance to finally get one up on Peugeot team-mate Gronholm, who dominated the year on his way to a second drivers' title.

It also means Burns has slipped from second in the world championship at the start of the rally to fifth, behind Gronholm, Solberg, Sainz and Colin McRae who finished fifth on the rally.


Final positions in the Rally of Great Britain:

1 Petter Solberg (Nor) Subaru three hours 30 minutes 36.4 seconds
2 Markko Martin (Est) Ford 24.4 seconds behind
3 Carlos Sainz (Spa) Ford at 1:35.7
4 Tommi Makinen (Fin) Subaru at 2:37.5
5 Colin McRae (GB) Ford at 3:01.5
6 Mark Higgins (GB) Ford at 5:01.9
7 Harri Rovanpera (Fin) Peugeot at 5:15.8
8 Freddy Loix (Bel) Hyundai at 5:15.9
9 Juha Kankkunen (Fin) Hyundai at 5:29.1
10 Toni Gardemeister (Fin) Skoda 6:02.9

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
 BBC Five Live's Jonathan Legard
"A first championship victory for Solberg"
 Peugeot's Richard Burns
"These things happen, unfortunately"
RALLY GB STAGE GUIDE
SEASON SO FAR
TOP TEAMS AND DRIVERS


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Day Four

Day Three

Day Two

Day One

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