Oliver Solberg, son of the 2003 World Rally, 2014 and 2015 World Rallycross Champion Petter Solberg, made his second WRC start after the Wales Rally GB last year, at the season-opener of Rallye Monte-Carlo.
This was the first tarmac event for Solberg in his career and it was a rollercoaster ride for him. He entered in the WRC3 class with co-driver Aaron Johnston in a Volkswagen Polo GTi R5.
Solberg took safe tyre options throughout the rally, driving at some of the world’s toughest stages, in ever-changing conditions to pick up knowledge and to gain more experience for his upcoming years in the sport.
Even at that safe speed, they were able to post hugely impressive times, with a third fastest of all R5 class cars on the second run at the Cubans – Venterol test. The only incident for Solberg was when he clipped a kerb with the left-rear of his car.
“Everything everybody told me about the Monte was true. It is so difficult rally. So difficult! Solberg said
“Everything we did on this event was new. I never competed on Tarmac before, everything we had done in the previous years had been getting ready for gravel rallies – which are the ones we will be doing most. We had a test before this event, but when we came to these conditions it was just incredible.
“Everybody said we would be on the wrong tyre for a lot of the time and this was exactly how it was. We were on the ice tyre for a long time on Saturday morning, doing these huge slides as the studs have no grip on the dry asphalt.
“All the time I was thinking: “Is this right?” And then you come to the full ice and snow and the tyre is perfect. Then you think: “Yes! This is right!” Solberg said.
“It was a real compromise of everything, but you have to come here to learn that and if you go to the ditch on the first day then you learn nothing. Sometimes I was maybe wanting to push a little bit harder, but I knew there was too much at risk.
“Even when I hit the kerb, I learned so much. It was literally at walking speed. I used the handbrake to rotate the car, but on the ice it slid too far. The wheel hit the kerb at a really low speed, but just at the wrong angle.“
“We broke a bolt in the suspension and had to stop and make the repair ourselves. This doesn’t matter. I always said I wasn’t coming here for the race, I was coming here to learn and I learned so much!
“The problem is, I can’t wait another 12 months to come back – I want to go and do it all again now.” Solberg added.