Oliver Solberg will make his second appearance at the top level of the World Rally Championship after securing a drive in a Hyundai i20 WRC run by 2C Compétition to enter Rally Sardinia on 3 – 6 June. He will be reunited with regular co-driver Arron Johnstone, after COVID protocols prevented Johnstone from competing in Solberg’s previous appearance.
After a solid debut on February’s Arctic Rally Finland where the nineteen year old finished seventh, the youngster will face a very different challenge on the hot dusty stages of Sardinia. The event won’t be a complete unknown however, as he did take part in last years autumnal event which was moved to October as part of the calendar reshuffle caused by the global pandemic.
Monster Energy driver Solberg said said: “It’s fantastic to be back in the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC again. The Arctic Rally Finland feels like a long time ago now and ever since I stepped out of the car at the end of that rally, I’ve been completely desperate to get back in it!
“It will be a little bit different on the gravel, but the loose-surface set-up isn’t so completely different. The aim for me is just the same like it was in Finland – to make as much experience as possible. It’s a fantastic opportunity to be driving this car again, so I’m really thankful to Andrea Adamo, Alain Penasse and to everybody in the team for making this happen. And, of course, to 2C Compétition for the car,
“Sardinia’s a cool place. When I was there in October, I really enjoyed the roads and we were able to set a pretty good pace there in the R5 car we were using last year. I made a small, small mistake there last year, which cost me the chance to finish first R5 car and eighth overall – but I learned another lesson on that stage.”
Solberg will be in action before Sardinia however, as he begins his World Rally Championship 2 season in Portugal this month. Running in a Hyundai i20 R5, the event will be his first points scoring opportunity of the season, but with a strong entry list and the rally running in a new area of the country for 2021, he knows it will be tough.
“I have been in this area on Rally Fafe Montelongo last year, but the stages were all Tarmac on that event. This one’s going to be quite different. I heard so many stories about the gravel stages in this part of the world – it’s going to be fantastic to go there and discover them for myself.
“The competition will be really tough in WRC2, it looks like everybody – including Esapekka Lappi – is coming out for this one. It’s going to be a big fight. For me, I’m going for the experience again, but it would be nice to be chasing a podium finish out there.”
Rally Portugal runs from the 20 – 23 May and is round four of the World Rally Championship, with Rally Sardinia being round five.