Solberg, the 2003 world champion, made a guest appearance on the rally he won in 2005 with Subaru, this time driving his own Ford Escort Mk2, with wife Pernilla as co-driver.
The Historic rally ran during Friday and Saturday’s main WRC competition and included 84 timed kilometres on stages including Vargasen, Sagen and Fredriksberg. The Solbergs took victory by 1m49.9s from Audi Quattro driver Erik Johansson. Mats Myrsell was third in a Porsche 911.
Solberg told wrc.com that the reaction from the fans on the stages had spurred him on. “It was incredible to see so many people standing on the side of the road waving and encouraging us, I really can’t thank them enough,” he said. “We tried to give them a good show, and they seemed to love the sound of the Escort – we had the engine at 10,400 revs a lot of the time.”
A gearbox problem on the opening Vargasen stage enabled Johansson to take the early lead. But after attention from Solberg’s team, including former co-driver Phil Mills whose Viking Motorsport outfit built the car, Solberg was back on the attack. “We got it fixed okay, even though the repairs left us without a reverse gear, so we couldn’t afford to spin on day two,” he said.
“And I must thank my co-driver, who did a great job,” added Petter. “We’re still married, but we did have a small fight in the last stage because she was watching my driving rather than reading the pace notes. I think she got a bit bored. She started talking about how my feet looked on the pedals.”
After his classic rally outing, Solberg’s focus has switched to modern machinery and preparations for a busy season of rallycross. “We have a car now, a Citroen DS3, and we have put together a good team of people. It’s a big job and there’s lots to do but our goal is to make the opening round of the European Championship at Lydden Hill at the end of March,” he said.
"We tried to give them a good show, and they seemed to love the sound of the Escort"