Solberg takes plenty of positives from Idaho Rally
Rallying’s about the rough and the smooth.
Seventeen-year-old Oliver Solberg has enjoyed a sensational start to his first full year of competition in the sport, winning four of the five rallies he has started in 2019. He finished second in the other. And last weekend, he finished ninth after a tough time on the latest American Rally Association qualifier.
Oliver returned to America’s north-west for the first time since his historic victory on the DirtFish Olympus Rally (April 27/28), where he won nine of 12 stages aboard his Subaru Motorsports USA WRX STI.
Saturday’s opening day was a tricky one for the son of 2003 World Rally Champion Petter Solberg. Oliver suffered many small issues with the car, including 20 minutes in the morning loop with throttle issues, culminating in him and co-driver Denis Giraudet being forced into retirement on SS5.
The team worked on the car on Saturday night, enabling the crew to restart on Sunday morning – but by then any hope of another win had gone and they started day two a long way down the classification.
Oliver ended his Idaho Rally International debut on a high by dominating the Sunday running on the event, winning five from six stages in the WRX STI. In addition to that stunning pace, he collected valuable seat time aboard the Subaru.
Oliver said: “I have lived my life in rallying, so I know this sport’s not going to run smoothly all the time.
“We had some small throttle and fuel-related problems which meant we couldn’t get any power from the car. It doesn’t matter how much testing you do, when you put the numbers on the doors these things can happen. Rallying is a mechanical sport and it’s part of the game.
“What was good was the chance to get some more time in the car on different kind of roads. In Idaho, the roads really weren’t so fast as we’d seen before in Olympus and 100 Acre Wood. My co-driver Denis told me these stages were quite like the ones used in Cyprus and Greece. I like the chance to drive on different styles of road and I like to drive in this Subaru.
“Honestly, when everything is working like it should, the feeling is just wonderful – I love to be able to really push and enjoy the car and the stages. It’s fantastic. OK, we didn’t make the big result like last time, but we have more experience now and we look forward to the next one.
“I want to say a very big thank you to Subaru Motorsports USA and Vermont [SportsCar] for getting us up and running again. And I also want to thank all of the organisers and marshals on this event – as ever, they did a fantastic job and we should remember that, without them, our sport wouldn’t exist!”
Oliver returns to Europe and his Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 for his next outing at Rally Estonia (July 12-14).