Oliver’s American dream is go!
From the moment Oliver Solberg understood what it was to dream, he’s dreamed of this moment. Now, it’s here.
He’s a Subaru driver. Just like his dad.
Next week is all about firsts for Oliver. It’s his first time… driving for Subaru Motorsports USA, competing in a four-wheel drive car on gravel, rallying in a WRX STI, tackling an American Rally Association (ARA) round and, of course, his first time starting an event outside of Europe.
Oliver’s 17. None of the above is a problem.
“I just want to get on with it now,” he said. “Honestly, I have been waiting – and dreaming – about this for so long. Now it’s nearly here and I can’t wait.”
Co-driven by Northern Irishman Aaron Johnston, Oliver’s maiden outing in a Subaru comes on the 100 Acre Wood Rally in Missouri – the first of six all gravel ARA outings this season.
“I don’t know so much about the rally itself,” said Oliver. “I’ve spoken to David [Higgins, team-mate] about it and he’s given me some advice, but otherwise I’ve just been watching as many onboards from this rally as I can get my hands on.
“There’s so much new stuff coming my way next week. The biggest thing will be the WRX STI: it’s quite different to the rally cars I’ve driven before, it’s bigger, more powerful and it’s got a lot more aero.”
Oliver tests the 2019-specification Subaru WRX STI for the first time in Missouri early next week.
“I’ll be really happy to get in the car and get a feeling for how it works,” he said. “I think it could be quite different to the R5 car I’ve been driving in Europe.”
The ‘Solberg back to Subaru’ story is one that has captured the rallying public’s imagination right around the world and Oliver can’t wait to write the first chapter of the second book.
“I’m so excited! The emotion is incredible, I knew it would be strong when I came to the car and looked at the overalls and things, but it really has been – and it’s the same for my parents. Dad won the world championship with a Subaru in 2003 and now I’m starting on a journey in the same company. It’s fantastic.”
Just before we go, let’s grab a word from Subaru’s other Solberg, papa Petter.
“Pernilla and I are so proud of Oliver and what he’s achieved already,” said the 2003 World Rally Champion. “And what’s even more impressive is that Oliver is doing all of these deals and all of this work himself. He drove this whole Subaru Motorsports USA thing from the start.
“Like Oliver said, I think there will be some real emotion for us all when he comes to get in the car for the first time. It’s incredible how this story comes full circle.”
0 that’s how many times Oliver’s done the event
0 (again) is how many times Aaron’s done the event
0 (for the last time) is the number of rallies Oliver’s done in a four-wheel drive car on gravel
1 is the number of films released all about Oliver Solberg this year (Born2Drive – watch it now)
0.83 kilometres (0.52 miles) is the shortest stage of the 100 Acre Wood Rally
7 is how many times Ken Block has won this event
9 times – that’s how many American titles Oliver’s Subaru Motorsports USA team-mate David Higgins has won
16 stages on the event
19.80 kilometres (or 12.38 miles) is the longest stage on the event
70 Oliver’s start number
100 is the only number in the title of this rally
199.23 kilometres (124.52 miles) is the racing distance in the 100 Acre Wood Rally
100 Acre Wood Rally
Start: March 15
Finish: March 16
Based: Salem, Missouri
Geography… where it’s all at
So, where’s Salem? Where’s Missouri?
Missouri’s in the middle of America and to the right a bit. Coming from Europe, if you get to Kansas, you’ve overshot. Kentucky and you’ve come up short. Basically, south-west of Chicago.
Salem’s south-east of St Louis and south-west of Kansas City. Not far from Springfield (not that one…) and right on the edge of the Mark Twain National Forest. Mark was from these parts.
Oliver’s American Rally Association 2019 programme
100 Acre Wood Rally, Missouri (March 15/16)
Olympus Rally, Washington (April 27/28)
Idaho Rally, Idaho (June 22/23)
New England Forest Rally (NEFR), Maine (July 19/20)
Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally (STPR), Pennsylvania (September 13/14)
Lake Superior Performance Rally (LSPR), Michigan, (October 18/19)