Monday | 14 Jun 2021

Double joy for Solberg after Italy victory

Oliver Solberg celebrated his late addition to the Safari Rally Kenya entry by winning Italy’s Rally di Alba on Sunday – but it was team-mate Ott Tänak who set the pace through the event’s nine stages.

It was a maiden Hyundai Motorsport victory for the 19-year-old Swede who drove an i20 World Rally Car on asphalt for the first time. He was, however, quick to pay tribute to Tänak’s pace at the non-championship rally.

Solberg said: “I know we will register this as a win, but I don’t take this so seriously. We could see all the time Ott’s speed was pretty incredible, so I think there is still some work for me to do.”

Solberg, who earlier in the day confirmed his call-up for next week’s sixth round of the FIA World Rally Championship in Kenya, beat Tänak by 27.9sec after 105km of competition. Tänak received a 2min 30sec penalty after the team worked longer than allowed on changes to his car.

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“I had a lot of fun,” said Solberg. “The car is just incredible on the Tarmac. I only drove on the snow in Arctic before, so to come here and just get in the car and go at shakedown was quite something.

“I know I have a lot to learn from the car still, but coming here to Alba was such a cool way for me to drive on Tarmac for the first time. The roads are amazing, so much fun to drive – especially in a car like this one. Everything worked really well.

“The main thing was for me to take the experience and learn the car. If there was one thing I would have liked, it would have been to win a stage. I was close sometimes, but it’s tough when you are competing with a guy like Ott – he’s a world champion.

Tänak was happy with his perfect performance on the stages and more knowledge and experience of the asphalt-specification Hyundai.

Victory in Italy marked Solberg's first with Hyundai Motosport

“We came here to test,” Tänak said, “and that’s what we have done. It wasn’t about winning the rally for us, it was about understanding more and gathering more data after Croatia.”

Tänak finished almost 90sec adrift of winner Sébastien Ogier at April’s Croatia Rally and admitted afterwards that he lacked performance and felt ‘far out of my comfort zone’.

“The conditions here [in Italy] were a little bit different to Croatia. It was hotter and the roads were sometimes quite tricky – with the three loops the line was also getting quite dirty. We’ve learned a lot,” he added.