Solberg announces retirement
Former WRC champion Petter Solberg has called time on his professional driving career.
The 44-year-old drove for Ford, Subaru and his own team in 14 seasons in the WRC, winning the 2003 title with Subaru following a fierce battle with then Citroën star Sébastien Loeb.
The Norwegian was the only man to beat nine-time champion Loeb across a full season of WRC action and remains the only driver ever to win FIA World Championship titles in two disciplines. He backed up his WRC crown with World Rallycross championships in 2014/15.
More recently Solberg helped Volkswagen develop its Polo GTI WRC 2 car and gave it a world debut in Spain last October.
Solberg told WRC.com: “I’ve been fortunate enough to compete at the highest level for 20 years. This is the right time for me to stop chasing the championships.
“But I’m definitely not stopping completely. I will never hang up my helmet or switch the engine off – I love rallying and I love driving too much. I will do some more high-profile events.”
Solberg suffered a lung disease in the last two years and admitted the illness, from which he has now recovered, played a part in his decision to step back from season-long competition.
“I had no energy,” he said. “And now the energy is back I want to do something new. As well as this, my son Oliver is competing in rallies with Subaru now and I want to have time to support him. It’s about the future now.
“I’m so proud of what I achieved and now is a good time to do some events to see the fans and say thank you for the support through my career.”
Solberg will contest a series of events in a ‘farewell tour’ starting with the popular Goodwood Festival of Speed in July in the UK.
A fan favourite throughout his career, Solberg’s popularity led to the nickname ‘Hollywood.’ Beyond his 13 wins and the unforgettable 2003 Wales Rally GB victory which secured the world championship for him and co-driver Phil Mills, few will forget his trip through an Alsatian vineyard on the 2012 Rallye de France.Scroll down to see our choice of Solberg images from his memorable 2003 title-clinching success in Britain and a video of his announcement.
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