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Petter Solberg and Chris Patterson’s third place was the best result by a Citroën DS3 WRC in Rally Australia. Peter van Merksteijn Junior and Erwin Mombaerts in the other car prepared by Citroën Racing Technologies finished just outside the points in the drivers’ classification, but scored points for the Van Merksteijn Motorsport team.

This year, the first day of Rally Australia, moved to Coffs Coast in New South Wales, was marked by very heavy rain. In these wet conditions several crews went off. Petter Solberg and Chris Patterson were quick and consistent, and used their considerable experience to finish in third place overall.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen such muddy roads,” said the Norwegian driver. “I spun a few times and lost time but we were still in the race. The car handled perfectly which enabled us to push hard in these extreme conditions.”

On Saturday and Sunday, the 2003 world champion matched the pace of Mikko Hirvonen and Jari-Matti Latvala to score his second podium finish this season: “We improved throughout the weekend. I’m delighted to be back on the podium. We’ve been waiting for a result like this for a long time. It’s a great reward for the whole team to be back on the pace.”

The Norwegian was third quickest in the Power Stage scoring another point and consolidating his fifth place in the Drivers’ World Championship. The Petter Solberg World Rally Team is still lying fourth in the manufacturers’ title chase with three events to go until the end of the season.

Peter van Merksteijn Junior and Erwin Mombaerts were among the crews who ran into problems during the first day and had to stop after puncturing two tyres in SS6: “We were keeping up a good pace without taking risks. We were going quicker and quicker in each stage. I’m disappointed that we didn’t finish the day, but we were able to restart and score points in the manufacturers’ classification.”

The Citroën DS3 WRC in the colours of Van Merksteijn Motorsport moved up the time sheets as the rally continued. The Dutch driver set four times in the top 8 on Saturday afternoon. He kept up a steady pace the next day and saw the flag in thirteenth place adding four points to the team’s score in the manufacturers’ classification. “I really didn’t know what to expect in this rally before the start. The stages are fantastic and the people are very welcoming. We’ve had a great event and we’ve gathered a lot of experience in a new gravel rally. It’s very encouraging for the end of the season.”

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