2003 FIA World Rally and double FIA World Rallycross Champion Petter Solberg has announced his retirement from top-level motorsport.
Norwegian driver Solberg, the only person to have won both FIA Championships, will however contest a ‘farewell tour’ this season, taking in several events that he hopes will appeal to his fans.
Beginning with the Goodwood Festival of Speed in July, he will then take part on the Råeste Bakkeløp Hillclimb in his native Norway before concluding his programme with the Gymkhana GRID Final in Poland at the beginning of September.
Speaking about why he’s chose to retire from the highest level of the sport, Solberg said: “I love driving and I will always drive and always compete, but the time has come to make a decision about which way forward and the decision is to stop driving professionally and start a new chapter in my book.”
“I’m not hanging it (my helmet) up. I will still compete in some big events this year and in the future. But I am retiring from world championships. Last year’s World RX Championship was the last one for me.”
He added: “Honestly, (I’m retiring) because the time is right. I had some sickness for the last couple of years which made me think about what I really wanted to do, but I recovered from that a couple of months ago. My fitness and energy is all back now and I’m ready for a new challenge.”
Solberg also admitted VW’s break from WRX had an impact on his choice and he commented: “Volkswagen’s decision to take a break from World Rallycross was also a factor in my decision, but I have some serious ambitions for the future and I want to start working towards those.”
“Oliver is competing regularly at a higher level now; he’s standing on his own two feet and making his own way in our exciting world, but I want to be sure he has the right support from his family.”
Looking towards the future, Solberg also said he wants to continue in Rallying and Rallycross, although as a leader of his own team alongside a manufacturer and he revealed on his plans for the long-term: “I want to open another door. I want to work with a manufacturer in either WRC or WRX.”
“I ran my own team in WRC and was really proud to take a bronze medal in 2010. Then I took two world titles in rallycross with my team before dominating everything for the last two years when we ran Volkswagen’s Polo R Supercars.”
“I want to build on that experience and use my own experience for the next generation of drivers to develop my team and take it to the next level. But I do this calmly. In rallying and rallycross the landscape is changing with new technical regulations coming, so we wait for the right opportunity.”
“I think we have shown the world we have the right credentials, the right experience and the right ability to win with and for manufacturers and that’s where I’m looking now. It’s time to see the whole future.”
As well as claiming the 2003 FIA World Rally Championship Drivers’ title alongside co-driver Phill Mills, Solberg went on to win won both the 2014 and 2015 World Rallycross Championships.
His PSRX team was also part of the VW effort behind Johan Kristoffersson’s two title victories in 2017 and 2018.