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Wed 20 Sep 2023

Solberg to turn back time with UK historic outing

WRC2 star Oliver Solberg will step into a time machine of sorts as he temporarily swaps his Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 for a classic Ford Escort RS1800 on the upcoming Roger Albert Clark Rally.

Solberg is being handed the keys for the car, which belongs to father Petter, to contest the marathon event from 22 - 27 November. The Roger Albert Clark Rally, named after the famous British driver, will comprise a route of 350 miles across England, Wales and Scotland - making it the longest stage rally to be held in the UK for more than 30 years.


The Escort RS1800 in question was originally built for Petter Solberg by Viking Motorsport. The firm is owned by Phil Mills, who co-drove Petter to the 2003 WRC title.


“Before I talk about anything,” said Solberg, “I have to say a big thank you to Phil Mills. Phil has helped so much to make this happen, getting everything ready for us. It’s a fantastic opportunity.


“It’s always been a dream to do this rally. I heard so many stories about the rally and the stages which are used. I was telling my Grandpa [Per-Inge Walfridsson] about it the other day and he straight away said: “You will be going to Kielder Forest, this is one tough place to compete!”

“It’s so cool to hear these stories and to have the chance to drive in places like Wales, Scotland and the north of England. Everybody heard so much about the old RAC Rally, it feels like we’re going back in time a little bit and doing this.”


Solberg has vast experience of front and four-wheel drive machinery. However, the 21-year-old has not previously driven a rear-wheel drive rally car competitively.


“I will do a day testing before we start, which I’m kind of needing,” he said. “I think I did around six kilometres on snow and about the same on gravel in this car before. I need some experience and feeling before we start.


“Both of my eyes are absolutely on the finish. This will be the longest rally I ever competed on. It’s going to be fairly tough: five days and I think around 40 per cent of the route in the dark in a car with no power steering – I’m going to be in the gym a fair bit from now until the start!”


The Roger Albert Clark Rally starts from Carmarthen in Wales on Wednesday 22 November. Thursday and Friday are spent heading north through Welsh stages including Crychan, Myherin and Hafren. Saturday’s route includes Scottish classics with Ae and Dalbeattie included before the route turns south and dives into Kielder Forest for two days before finishing in Carlisle on Monday 27 November.