New car, new co-driver and new challenge for 2019
After a breakthrough year in 2018 with rally wins in the Peugeot 208 R2, and a RallyX Nordic Championship, it’s all change for Oliver in 2019. He will be returning to the Latvian Rally Championship, but this time in a Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 and with a new co-driver, 23 year-old Aaron Johnston.
“After two seasons in the Latvian Championship driving the R2, it’s really exciting to come back for a third year in a new class with the Volkswagen Polo GTI R5. We’ve had a three day test in winter conditions to get to know the car, and I’m really happy with how quickly I got used to the new speed and feeling. It’s much easier to drive than the 208 R2, and I already feel quite comfortable with the driving. But of course until we start the stages it’s hard to know quite how good it will be!”
Oliver will be driving the same Volkswagen Polo R5 as his father Petter did in Rally de España, and plans to use the car in all Latvian Championship rounds in 2019, as well as potentially some other outings throughout the year. The new car is a big step up in terms of speed and performance, but Oliver isn’t worried about this with the experience he has within his team.
“Of course having my father around (who drove this car in tests with Volkswagen and at Rally de España) has been really helpful in terms of setting up the car initially, however during our test I was in control of all the setup changes. When my dad got back in the car at the end of the test to see the changes he had no improvements to make which was very encouraging!”
With two full seasons rallying in Latvia already, Oliver has plenty of experience driving these events and is excited to be able to compete on these stages again in 2019.
“This will be my third time at Rally Aluksne, and it’s an event I really enjoy. It’s a nice rally – it’s fast but also narrow and tricky. I have no real goal going into the rally in terms of result as it’s my first event in this car, so we’ll push at around 95% throughout, try to make sure we finish and see where we are at the end.”
The car isn’t the only thing changing for 2019 – Oliver has also got a new co-driver as Aaron Johnston steps into the seat that Veronica Engan has had for the past two seasons. Read more about the switch and find out more about Aaron by clicking here.
“With a new co-driver and new car, I know this year will be a challenge. But I like a challenge, and I hope that after building experience over the first few rallies we’ll be able to push harder in the second half of the season and show some good performances.”
“Finally I’d like to thank Circle K Norge and all my partners for their support this year. Without them none of this would be possible. And of course without them the car wouldn’t look as good as it does with this livery!”
Rally Aluksne runs on 18/19 January, after a Shakedown for the team on Wednesday. Follow all the results on Oliver’s social media pages (@oliversolberg01).