Citroen team principal Olivier Quesnel has denied rumors that he asked Petter Solberg to run first on the road through yesterday's longest day of Rally Mexico.
After leading early in the day, Solberg had been expected to drop time on the second loop of Friday stages to ensure himself the best position on the road through Saturday's nine stages.
There was genuine surprise in the service park when the Norwegian maintained his lead and headed into day two with just a 15-second advantage over Sebastien Ogier and 27.5sec over Sebastien Loeb. Solberg could not maintain his pace running first on the dusty roads yesterday and fell to second, as Loeb vaulted into the lead. Speculation built through the event's second day that a deal had been done between Solberg and Quesnel – something both parties denied.
"Petter does what he wants," Quesnel said. "I think, yesterday, when he finished first it was because he had the bad rally in Sweden and, now he's the privateer, it was good for the sponsor. Imagine if he had ended day one further back and then he had a problem on day two, his sponsor would not be happy, they would say, 'What are you doing?'
"I think the best demonstration [that there was no deal] is what will happen today. For myself it's very clear, today, Seb [Ogier] has to try to be before Petter at the finish, but he has to stay on the road. So, if it's too complicated, Petter will stay second."
Solberg said he had no regrets about his decision to run first on the road.
"It was good for me and good for my sponsors to lead this rally," he said. "In the morning I lost what I expected to lose to Loeb, but I didn't think we would lose so much through the afternoon. It was the right decision at the time and we wouldn't change it now."