The 19-year-old made an impressive debut in a 2C Competition-run car at February’s Arctic Rally Finland, finishing seventh after a spin on the Wolf Power Stage saw him drop one position.
Three months on from Lapland, Solberg will start round five of the WRC season driving an i20 Coupe WRC in very different conditions. Gone are the snow and ice of winter, replaced by the scorching Italian island sunshine.
“It will be a little bit different on the gravel,” said the Swede, “but the loose-surface set-up isn’t so completely different. The aim for me is just the same like it was in Finland – to make as much experience as possible. It’s a fantastic opportunity to be driving this car again, so I’m really thankful to Andrea [Adamo, Hyundai Motorsport team principal] and Alain [Penasse, team manager] for making this happen. And, of course, to 2C [Compétition] for the car.”
Solberg starred in Sardinia last October, when the WRC made its autumn visit to the island roads. Driving a Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo, Solberg was leading WRC3 up until Saturday’s final stage when a mistake in under braking saw the car beached.
“It’s fantastic to be back in the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC again,” said Solberg. “The Arctic [Rally Finland] feels like a long time ago now and ever since I stepped out of the car at the end of that rally, I’ve been completely desperate to get back in it!
“I know Sardinia’s going to be a tricky event – I remember this from last year. The good thing is that I have some knowledge of the event, OK there are some new roads which some of the guys might have done, but I have some idea of what’s coming. And, after Arctic, I have a really good idea of what the car’s like.”
Prior to Rally Italia Sardegna (June 3-6), Solberg will start his WRC2 campaign at this month’s Vodafone Rally de Portugal, driving a Hyundai i20 R5. The Matosinhos-based May 20-23 event will be the Swedish teenager’s first time on the Portuguese gravel.