The Norwegian, who stepped away from the WRC at the end of last season, has been tempted back to the series, and the closest thing to a home rally, to drive his own rear-wheel drive Mk2 Ford Escort in the historic class.
Solberg’s Swedish wife Pernilla, herself an accomplished rally driver, will be his navigator. The pair carried out a successful test of the Escort, driving it as course car on Rally Finnskogsvalsen in Sweden on the same weekend as the WRC regulars were in Monte-Carlo.
“We enjoyed the test so much that I really can’t wait to get started on Rally Sweden,” Petter told wrc.com. “I just couldn’t picture myself there simply as a bystander. I don’t have to be in a WRC car to enjoy driving, and having my wife in the car makes it something special too. She has been in the car only once before, and she’s an ex driver so it’s not easy for me to listen to her reading notes, I tell you.”
The car has been built to 1975 works team spec by Petter’s former co-driver Phil Mills. It is fitted with a two-litre BDG engine that produces 260bhp.
The historic runners in Sweden will tackle just six competitive stages with two on Friday and four on Saturday. “I think they’ve picked the best ones,” explained Petter. “And I’m delighted they have including my favourite of all, Vargåsen, which has the enormous ‘Colin’s Crest’. How far we fly I can’t say but I will put on a good show. It’s a very good car and I’m going to nail it. I will have the biggest revs in the forest, for sure.”
Solberg hopes to announce his future motorsport plans in the coming weeks, “All I can say is that things are looking good. If things go well I might launch before Sweden if not, I will have to wait,” he said.
As for the main WRC class in Sweden, Solberg tipped three drivers to do well. “I think Sebastien Ogier is going to be hard to beat. He’s a very cool driver, but maybe Jari-Matti [Latvala] could do it if he gets a good feeling in the car. Then there’s Mads [Ostberg]. He’s always done well in Sweden but he’s the one who is probably under more pressure than anybody to do well. ”
Rally Sweden, round two of the 2013 World Rally Championship, starts on 7 February.