Oliver Solberg will compete in the season opening round of the 2020 FIA European Rally Championship, Rally di Roma, in his first rally on asphalt.
Solberg, who won on his only European championship R5 appearance on Rally Liepāja last year, will return to the PA Racing team in a Volkswagen Polo for the Italian event between July 24-26.
“To drive on Tarmac is really different to the gravel or the snow. OK, I did some dry stages in Monte Carlo this year, but this is nothing to compare. For Rome, the set-up from the car will be stiffer, completely different,” said Solberg ahead of the event.
“I want to learn as much as I can. My style of driving is quite smooth and quite progressive so I’m hoping I can find a way to drive on Tarmac quickly. I will do some testing before the event and then work a lot with PA Racing to make sure I understand everything from the car side.”
Despite having no competitive tarmac experience, the young Swede has in the past been taught by non-other than nine-time WRC champion Sebastien Loeb about some of the basics of asphalt rallying as he explained: “The time with Sébastien [Loeb] taught me so much.”
“I was so lucky to spend this time with him and sitting in the car and watching what he was doing made things much more clear for me. He showed me lots about weight transfer, braking, all of these things which are crucial for getting the car into the corner and through the corner without sliding.”
“On gravel, you slide the car more and this can be [the] fastest way. On tarmac, when you are sliding, you can hear you are killing the tyres and taking away the speed. This is what I have to remember when I am getting into the car in Rome.”
PA Racing meanwhile were the team Solberg contested the Bettega Memorial Rallysprint in Bologna with back in 2017. Driving a WRC machine for the first time and at just 16 years old, Solberg beat drivers such as eventual M-Sport Ford regular Teemu Suninen and was only defeated by Kalle Rovanperä.
The opening round of the 2020 FIA European Rally Championship, Rally di Roma, is set to be the largest rally to take place so far since March following the COVID-19 pandemic.