In terms of title fights, you would be hard-pushed to find a closer one than this year’s FIA Junior WRC scrap – just one point separated the top two drivers ahead of the final round in Britain. It was a classic.
From a Spanish perspective, it was ‘el clasico’ as the crown went back to the Solans household for the second time in three years. This time, it was Nil’s younger brother, Jan, who was wearing it.
Before this season, Solans’ WRC experience was limited to a single outing in Portugal last year. To say the 21-year-old was short on mileage outside of Spain was a huge understatement.
But what he did have was a big brother willing to share his knowledge – little wonder Jan paid tribute to his sibling’s assistance at the end of the season.
A podium on his snow debut in Sweden was a solid start, but it was a superb victory in Italy which moved him top of the table and gave him a real shot at the win.
He was forced to give best to chief rival Tom Kristensson on the penultimate round in Finland. Kristensson, also a Junior rookie, was kept honest over the super-fast Scandinavian roads by Dennis Rådström, but his fellow Swede’s charge, title tilt and M-Sport-run Ford Fiesta R2 were all dented when he retired on the first run through Ruuhimäki.
So, to Britain and, while double points meant a mathematical chance for nine drivers, the bookies’ favourites were Kristensson and Solans. The Spaniard drove beautifully on his Welsh debut, winning the event by almost three minutes and the title by 18 points.
He headed home with a new M-Sport Fiesta R5, 200 tyres and five free WRC 2 entries for the 2020 FIA World Rally Championship.
Rådström, who scored more fastest times than anybody else in the season, was third with American Sean Johnston ending on a high with a podium and fourth in the title race, four points clear of Italian Enrico Oldrati.
German Julius Tannert was the only driver to win one of the five rounds other than Solans and Kristensson. He ended seventh.