His father Petter may have carried the Solberg name to great successes over the years but on a rainy afternoon in Arvika last year, it was his son Oliver making the headlines after sweeping to his first RallyX Nordic victory.
The then-16-year-old was competing in only his second RallyX Nordic event at the Swedish venue driving the Citroen DS3 Petter campaigned to world championship glory in 2014, but Solberg would be the one to defeat a high-quality field and come away with the winners’ trophy.
Moreover, he did so in tricky weather conditions that would traditionally favour the more seasoned racer. However, instead it was rival Thomas Bryntesson that cracked under the pressure with a spin, allowing Solberg to complete a famous maiden triumph.
Indeed, while Solberg says he certainly benefited from advice offered to him by both Petter and current World Rallycross Champion Johan Kristoffersson, he admits he didn’t expect to come away with victory.
“No, I didn’t think I would win coming into the weekend! I had good confidence when it was dry and I showed good pace in Q1 to Q3, so I thought it could go the right way but then it started raining… I had never tested the car in the rain, so I had no idea how it would go! Johan [Kristoffersson] and my Dad both said the slower you go, the faster you go so I just took it very calm. It was great advice.”
“Bryntesson was on pole position and I was alongside him and then I got a better start than him. I tried to control it from here, so I just tried to take it slow, slow, slow… In the first half of the track he was faster but in the second half I pulled away, it was always like this. All the lap times were a tenth from each other, we were really even. My father said before the start to wait for his mistake – in the end that is exactly what he did and he spun.”
Topping the podium so early on in his career, Solberg recounts the last few moments of that momentous race.
“It was a special feeling crossing the line. The three final corners, one corner down, two to go… then last corner I pulled the handbrake flat and then full sideways across the line, which was fun!”
After reaching the final in round one at Holjes, Solberg will bid for glory in Arvika this weekend where temperatures are set to be very different to twelve months ago with hot weather and sunshine forecast on Saturday and Sunday.
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