Sat 17 Feb 2024

Home hero Solberg on course in WRC2

Oliver Solberg is three stages away from winning his home round of the FIA WRC2 Championship for the second year running following another strong showing in the Swedish snow today (Saturday).

Driving a Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 for Toksport WRT, Solberg carried a lead of 29.4sec into Saturday’s second leg alongside his British co-driver Elliott Edmondson.


Although Solberg wasn’t able to maintain his impressive tenure of third place in the overall standings, the 22-year-old’s advantage in WRC2 was never threatened throughout the second full day, the rally’s longest at 125.96 timed kilometres.


“The lead is so big, I just enjoy,” said Solberg, whose overnight advantage stands at 1min 14.0sec.

Georg Linnamäe set out on Saturday’s route in second place in WRC2, but a spin nearing the finish of SS11 let in fellow Toyota GR Yaris Rally2 driver Sami Pajari for the provisional runner-up spot, as Linnamäe fell to fourth behind Roope Korhonen.


While Pajari maintained second spot thereafter, Linnamäe fought back to demote Korhonen, the 2023 WRC3 champion, for third by topping the WRC2 order on SS14 before edging 0.2sec behind Pajari on SS15.


Mikko Heikkilä, who set the WRC2 pace on SS10, didn’t let a damaged tyre or a pop-off valve issue on SS14 prevent him from closing to within 5.2sec of his fellow Finn Korhonen by the end of the 28.06km test. However, a bent suspension arm and a spin on SS15 left Heikkilä 16.1sec adrift of his younger compatriot in fifth.

Lauri Joona is sixth overnight and comfortably clear of seventh-placed Emil Lindholm, who moved ahead of rising Swedish star and Solberg’s childhood friend Isak Reiersen on SS14.


Former WRC2 champion Lindholm’s hopes of a strong result in Sweden had suffered a setback on Friday due to turbo issues affecting his Hyundai i20 N Rally2.


Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC Challenge Program member Yuki Yamamoto was ninth heading into Saturday’s final stage, but a damaged suspension arm, sustained on SS14, forced the Japanese youngster to switch to go-slow mode for SS15. He dropped to 10th behind veteran Polish driver and WRC2 Masters Cup leader Michał Sołowow as a result.


After a reported battery issue put him out on Friday afternoon, Jan Solans – who had run as high as eighth on a rare outing on snow – restarted on Saturday and posted the fastest WRC2 time on SS13.


Sunday’s three-stage deciding leg begins with the first of back-to-back runs through the 25.50km Västervik test from 07:27 local time.

Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 8:30:00 AM
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 9:30:00 AM