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Starts: Thursday, June 27, 2024 at 8:00:00 AM
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Starts: Friday, July 5, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM
Ferratum World RX of Sweden 1
Starts: Saturday, July 6, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM

Fri 10 May 2024

Solberg brushes aside engine woes to lead WRC2 in Portugal

Super Swede Oliver Solberg showed his mettle at Vodafone Rally de Portugal on Friday, shrugging off an engine issue in his Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 to take a 7.3sec overnight lead.

Entering this rally tied for the championship lead with Citroën C3 rival Yohan Rossel, Solberg trailed the Frenchman after Thursday's super special stage at Figueira da Foz. However, once the gravel road tests kicked off on Friday morning, the youngster wasted no time in asserting his dominance.

Solberg stormed into the lead on Friday's opener and, though briefly overtaken by his Toksport team-mate Gus Greensmith at Góis 1, he swiftly regained control over the iconic Arganil stage before midday.

With soaring temperatures and the terrain growing increasingly rocky and rutted, preserving tyres was paramount during the afternoon loop. Solberg found himself grappling with a mysterious misfire which left his car’s engine running on three cylinders and evening cutting out, but some committed driving from the 22-year-old meant he was able to limit the time loss and hold onto the lead.

“In the middle [of the last stage] it cut out completely,” he explained. “I thought I had lost at least 10 seconds there. I tried to push in places but we definitely lost a lot of time.”

Meanwhile Greensmith was battling his own mechanical woes, nursing a faulty starter motor through the afternoon. Despite closing the gap to Solberg to just a tenth of a second, a costly spin in the final stage saw him slip to third behind Rossel.

Fourth place was occupied by Spain’s Jan Solans, almost a minute further back in his Toyota GR Yaris Rally2. Behind him was Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy hotshot Josh McErlean, who posted an impressive second-best time on his first gravel stage behind the wheel of a Škoda.

Solans led McErlean in the battle for WRC2 Challenger honours while local driver Paulo Neto topped the WRC Masters Cup leaderboard.