Thu 23 May 2024

WRC legend Petter Solberg to make rallying return next month

2003 FIA World Rally Championship winner Petter Solberg is dusting off his driving gloves to contest the BAUHAUS Royal Rally Scandinavia, a round of the FIA European Rally Championship (ERC), next month.

Petter, father of current WRC2 star Oliver, claimed his sole WRC title with Subaru in 2003, triumphing over legendary drivers including Richard Burns, Sébastien Loeb, and Carlos Sainz.

Nearly five years on from his last competitive outing at Wales Rally GB in 2019, the 49-year-old will return to action for round three of the ERC in his family-owned Volkswagen Polo GTI R5. Calling the pace notes will be Jonas Andersson, who currently partners Gus Greensmith in WRC2.

“It was calling me,” Solberg said. “Every time I was in the workshop, the car was telling me to use it! You can’t ignore that.

“You know me, you know this family – rallying is everything to us. Last year I took my mother for a ride in my Citroën C4 WRC on one stage of Royal Rally. That was nice, but Oliver was having all the fun and winning the rally.”

Solberg admitted that fun will be high on the agenda during the high-speed gravel event, which is based in the Swedish city of Karlstad and takes place from 13 – 15 June.

“I don’t go there trying to win, it’s for the show and to enjoy the driving,” he affirmed. “It will be tough. It’s five years since I did Rally GB (winning WRC2 and finishing 10th overall), nothing since then. The speed is incredible in the championship and you can’t just switch it back on.

“I have Jonas [Andersson] co-driving for me, this is something nice. We live close by together, but we didn’t compete [together] before. I am really looking forward to this, being back in the car is something special. Look at Carlos [Sainz], he is incredible to be winning Dakar and doing what he is doing. He was my team-mate in 1999, and a big and special person for me in my career and still he is like an inspiration.”

Solberg’s WRC career included stints with teams such as Ford, Subaru, and Citroën, yielding 190 starts, 13 victories, and one world title.

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