Tasked with putting together a rally, which required a service park, super special stage, three gravel, three asphalt and a Wolf Power Stage, there was no doubt as to where the former world champion was headed for the finale to his weekend.
“Margam Park – obviously!” enthused the Norwegian. “This is where Phil [Mills] and I celebrated being world champions at the 2003 Rally GB.”
His victory marked one of the most memorable finishes ever to a WRC season, with the man they call ‘Mr Hollywood’ holding on for a one-point victory over Sébastien Loeb in the drivers’ championship. Heading into the season-concluding rally that year, Richard Burns and Carlos Sainz could also realistically still claim the title. As Solberg himself puts it, it was: “The perfect end to the perfect rally.”
It would be the last time for 15 seasons that someone called Sébastien would not be crowned world champion.
Other highlights of Solberg’s perfect rally are a trip to the Guanajuato, Mexico, for the opening stage of the event, but it was a close-cut decision. “This was a tough one. You know how much I love to say hello to the people.
"My first thought was for the stage in the Olympic Stadium in Athens, where we had 65,000 people and an incredible atmosphere. But when you talk about the superspecial, so much is about the atmosphere and this one has to the the Guanajuato stage in Mexico. It makes my hairs stand up just thinking about it. The noise, the colour, it’s just amazing - and a very, very tricky stage going through the tunnels and with the kerbs everywhere!"
2003 Season in Review
A driver who thrived off fan support, this also played a role in Solberg selecting PortAventura in Salou, Spain, as his service park. Situated next to an amusement park and in walking distance to the nearby beaches, the centre point of Rally RACC - Rally de España is a major drawcard for fans.
“There was such a great atmosphere here with so many fans – and lots of action with changing from gravel to Tarmac set-up on the car. It was amazing!”
See below Solberg’s full perfect rally. The perfect rallies of a number of other WRC drivers – past and present – can be found on WRC’s social media channels.