Petter Solberg enjoyed a much better weekend at the 2016 World RX Of Belgium than his previous World RX outing, as he secured a podium finish behind event winner Mattias Ekstrom and runner-up Sebastien Loeb.
After enduring a troublesome weekend in Hockenheim, the double FIA World Rallycross Champion came out fighting at Mettet and proved that he had lost none of the edge that he has enjoyed in recent seasons, despite the increased level of competition. However after the issues in Hockenheim, the PSRX Team stayed on at the German circuit to try and solve these issues before Mettet as Solberg explained, “The weekend went well for us, In fact, the week went well for us. After Hockenheim, we stayed in Germany to figure out what was wrong with the car. The team worked so hard, but they did that and that’s what’s made this result possible.”
After setting competitive times in Free Practice, the Norwegian never strayed outside the top four positions in Qualifying and showed his defiance by going fastest overall in Q4 to secure a spot in the Semi-Finals. The 2003 World Rally Champion followed this up by taking his Citroen DS3 Supercar to the win in semi-final 2 ahead of the the two Volkswagen RX Sweden drivers to confirm his place on the front row for the final alongside championship rival Ekstrom.
A measured but cool drive from the Norwegian saw him stay with Ekstrom, Anton Marklund and Loeb, however on lap two of the final, Marklund spun his Polo which held up Solberg at the back of the circuit.
Solberg continued on and after taking his joker lap on the final lap, he brought his Citroen home in third place, Whilst he has lost the Drivers Championship lead to Ekstrom, which is also the first time Solberg has lost that lead ever in a season of World RX, one outcome of the weekend that pleased Solberg was the professionalism and high quality driving from all of the World RX competitors, which is a marked difference form the exciting racing that took place at Hockenheim 7 days ago.
“Of course, we always want to win, but take a look at the line-up for the final, it was probably the strongest final ever in World Rallycross. I’m satisfied with the result we have taken. At the start, I could have gone to the outside and gone around [Mattias] Ekstrom, but that’s a risk and I’m trying to avoid them! What I’m happy with here in Belgium is the good clean, high-calibre driving we have seen. This is a world championship and it’s been driven like one, last time in Hockenheim, it was a little bit of carnage. I don’t like that so much.”
However, with the series now heading to its spiritual home at Lydden Hill at the end of May, Solberg offers this promise:
“So, now to Lydden. We have a couple of weeks before that race and the job for PSRX is to find the kind of pace we need to stop Ekstrom. Don’t worry, I have a plan.”