The 19-year-old Hyundai Motorsport driver turned in an exceptional top-level debut at last week’s Arctic Rally Finland Powered by CapitalBox. He placed his i20 seventh overall after posting top five times on six of the event’s 10 special stages.
The son of 2003 world champion Petter admitted understanding and using the downforce from the current generation World Rally Cars had been as tough as expected.
“Honestly, I am so, so happy with what we did last week,” said Solberg. “The times were really good, but I know there’s more to come. I was taking only a really small step with understanding what this Hyundai i20 WRC can do.
Video: Arctic Rally Finland - top 5 moments
“The level of aero grip from them is just unreal. You are going to some corners, turning the car in and it almost makes no sense that the car’s going to stick, but it does. It’s the most fantastic feeling and something you don’t get from normal cars.
“I knew the aero would be a big thing [to understand] and coming to a really fast event like this was like going straight to the deep end. But it was a fantastic place to start.”
Solberg impressed onlookers with fourth fastest time as early as the second stage. It could have been sooner.
“We stalled on the start of the first stage,” he said. “I was trying so hard to make the perfect launch and I stalled it. Then I stopped a little bit in the snowbank later in the stage. It was nothing dramatic, it was a really slow place.” The team calculated the car was stationary for 18sec.
Solberg was on course to finish sixth but a spin in the closing Wolf Power Stage relegated him behind Takamoto Katsuta. The gap between them was1.2sec at the finish.
“I know it’s crazy to talk about doing this, but I was so desperate to try to fight with Sébastien [Ogier] in that stage and I had the spin. I was a little bit frustrated because I’d made a small mistake in a corner just before that – but the spin wasn’t because of this.
“Sébastien is a perfectionist and that’s what I want to do. He’s the guy I watched so much, he’s the hero for me and to compete against him was such a strange feeling. Like Ogier, I want every corner perfect.”
Solberg’s next assignment will be another test aboard Hyundai’s all-new i20 N Rally2.