Belfast Telegraph

World Rally Championship: Chris happy to take back seat again

By Sammy Hamill

Chris Patterson enjoyed his moment in the spotlight but he has no wish to repeat the experience in Mexico this week.

The Ballyclare co-driver will be happy to be back guiding Petter Solberg on round two of the World rally championship, which begins from Leon tonight, rather than replacing the former World champion behind the wheel of their Citroen DS3.

Patterson was thrust into the driving seat for the final stage of last month’s Rally Sweden after Norwegian Solberg was caught speeding on a road section and had his licence revoked.

So for the first time in WRC history, a co-driver — who is essentially a navigator — swapped seats to drive a special stage and Patterson did well enough to keep them in the top five.

“It was a bizarre experience but I really enjoyed it and it created a real stir in rally circles,” he said. “But hopefully it will be a one-off. Driving is Petter’s job and he is better at it than me — a lot better!”

The opening round of the 2011 WRC series, which saw the introduction of the new breed of 1600cc turbocharged cars, produced a clean-sweep for Ford, their Fiestas finishing 1-2-3 in the hands of Mikko Hirvonen, Mads Ostberg and Jari-Matti Latvala. But Patterson believes that does not represent the true state of play.

“Sweden is a snow rally and it was the Scandinavian drivers as much as the Fords which dominated,” he said.

“We were right in the mix until Petter had his problem.

“Mexico will be more of a level playing field although it, too, is a bit of a unique rally because of the altitude involved.

“I think it will be the third round in Portugal at the end of the month before we really know whether Ford or Citroen have the edge.”

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