Friday | 24 Sep 2021

Drew joins Solberg for Finland speedfest

Eight-time North American champion Craig Drew will co-drive Oliver Solberg at next week’s Secto Automotive Rally Finland (1 - 3 October).

The experienced Briton replaces Aaron Johnston in Hyundai Motorsport’s i20 N Rally2 after the Irishman and Solberg agreed to go their separate ways last week in the midst of a frantic co-driver merry-go-round at the WRC’s top level.

Drew and driver David Higgins dominated the roads in the United States, winning eight titles in nine seasons for Subaru from 2011 to 2019. They were team-mates of Solberg when the Swede tackled the series in 2019.

Solberg, who left his teenage years when he celebrated his 20th birthday on Thursday, said: “Craig is a good guy, a former team-mate and somebody I know well. I’m looking forward to working with him.”

Solberg makes his debut on Rally Finland's fast gravel

The partnership is understood to be for Finland only as Solberg finalises a permanent replacement for Johnston. Drew acknowledged launching a new relationship on the fastest round of the FIA World Rally Championship will be far from easy.

“It’s a tough event to jump into a new car and with a new driver but, having worked as team-mate to Oliver in 2019, it won’t take us long to gel,” he said.

“We’ll be sure to work hard together on the pre-event test to find a rhythm with Oliver’s pace note system and prepare for this iconic event as much as we can.”

Round 11 marks Solberg’s debut on Rally Finland’s rollercoaster gravel roads, although he finished seventh on Lapland’s frozen tracks in February at Arctic Rally Finland Powered by CapitalBox.

Video: Oliver Solberg talks tyres

“This is probably the rally I have been looking forward to most this year,” he admitted. “We got a bit of a feeling for Finland when we did Arctic in February, but this is the one. This is the one I have been dreaming about.

“We saw we had good speed and we were leading last time out in Greece. Yes, this time the roads are gravel again, but they are very different from the Acropolis – so much faster.”

Solberg lies 17th in WRC2 after retiring from the last three rounds and is making no predictions for Finland’s specialised roads where experience counts for a lot.

Co-driver rotation continues

Co-driver rotation continues

Oliver Solberg became the latest driver to part ways with their co-driver after announcing the news today (Thursday).

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“In terms of a result, I think we need to be realistic and remember this is my first time to compete at Rally Finland.

“I know there are some really, really fast guys there who know almost every inch of these roads – it’s not really sensible to think of beating them. For me, I have to take the experience and just enjoy driving the car,” he added.

• Full coverage from Secto Automotive Rally Finland will be available on WRC+ All Live here, including every stage broadcast as it happens as well as key interviews, features and expert analysis from the service park.

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