Oliver Solberg, son of 2003 WRC champion Petter Solberg will for first time take on the Rallye Monte Carlo stages, in his Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 with co-driver Aaron Johnston, backed by Monster Energy.
Rallye Monte Carlo is one of the oldest running rallies in the world and dates back all the way to the early days of automotive, started in 1911 and since then been one of the rallies everybody wants to win. Monte Carlo has been the season-opener for WRC since the early days with stages run on mix surface from snow and ice to twisty plain tarmac roads.
Starting on Thursday afternoon at the world-famous Casino Square and first stages will run on the challenging roads of Malijal and Puimichel. Friday and Saturday stages will take place in the narrow twisty roads in Hautes-Alps before heading to the mountain pass of Col de Turini on Sunday.
With the car that is run by his family’s team, Oliver will experience dry and wet asphalt, ice, snow, slush and just about everything in between this week. And, what’s more, because of the compromised tyre choice, he can just about guarantee he’ll be on the wrong tyre much of the time.
“It’s so exciting. I know I have been excited a lot by things in the last 12 months – competing in a Subaru in the same colours as my father in America, making my debut in the WRC with him in Wales, becoming the youngest driver ever to win a round of the FIA European Rally Championship – but this is really special. It’s Monte Carlo!” Oliver commented.
“I know it’s tough. One of the toughest. My Dad has told me a lot of stories about how difficult the rally will be. Because of the way rallies run, we have to choose our tyres for a loop of stages really early. Really early in the morning, we’ll be deciding on the tyres we’re still going to be using at lunchtime – you have to try to understand what the weather’s going to do.”
“Good. We drove near to Sisteron, where we were able to find some snow and ice. It’s so important to test in a place like this; it’s really important for me to get the feeling of what the car’s going to be doing when it’s on the wrong tyres. In a test like this, it’s a lot about preparing for the worst kind of situation. We did that.” Oliver commented about the test with the car earlier.
“You’re asking me? Honestly, I don’t know for myself. I will find out next week. I think the biggest thing is to be comfortable in the car and to be able to find confidence. If you have those two things then you can deal a little bit more easily with what’s coming. If you go to this rally with a racing car set-up, ready to push hard then it’s easy to have some trouble.” Oliver commented about the key to success.
“To take experience. This rally is so specific – we get one chance each season to come to Rallye Monte-Carlo and to build up some ideas and some knowledge of what the roads can be like and how the pace notes work. This is the priority for me. I’m really not so worried about the times or the speed or anything like that, I just want to get to the end of the stages and keep building my experience.” Oliver commented about his approach.
“I know this rally is going to be complicated. I never did anything like this before. Even if the roads are all dry, I still have done virtually nothing really on Tarmac. OK, we have some snow at home, but we have nothing like the Monte stages. For this time, I don’t want any pressure or anything, I want to go to this rally, enjoy it and make the experience.” Oliver commented on why he didn’t choose WRC2 or WRC3.