Oliver Solberg admitted his third place on Rally di Roma Captiale “felt a little bit like a win.”
Solberg showed fine pace on what was his debut on a full-tarmac rally in the opening round of the 2020 FIA European Rally Championship and finished on the podium as he used the event to return to the sport following the COIVD-19 pandemic.
The young Swedish driver, who also won the ERC1 Junior class said on his weekend: “I know I have a lot more to learn, but I can really say now that I love driving on asphalt. I understand some of how the car and the tyre works – it’s so different to gravel, but it’s very cool.”
“Before the start, I didn’t know anything about where my speed would be. OK, I drove Rallye Monte-Carlo which is a little bit of a Tarmac rally, but the set-up for the car is quite different.”
“Lots of people were asking me before I started, where I could finish and I hoped to be somewhere in the top 10. The competition here is tough, there are a lot of drivers who have been driving on asphalt for all of their careers. When I made a second fastest time [on SS5], it was fantastic.”
Solberg, son of 2003 WRC winner Petter, made history in the ERC last season after winning in his first appearance in the championship on Rally Liepāja and singled out his dad for special praise following his pace in Italy: “Dad was really helping Aaron (Johnston, co-driver) and me with the notes while we were watching the onboards.”
“That gave me good confidence and when we restarted on Sunday I was really enjoying it. I drove the same tyres for two loops to give me more experience of how it feels to have the car moving around beneath me when the tyres are wearing more; honestly, I really, really enjoyed it. It was so much fun.”
Solberg’s WRC campaign is currently on hold due to the COIVD-19 crisis, with the season not set to restart until early September with Rally Estonia.