Olympus awaits for Solberg and Subaru
Oliver Solberg’s Subaru story about an American adventure continues with this week’s Olympus Rally (April 27/28).
The 17-year-old will be behind the wheel of Subaru Motorsports USA’s WRX STI for the second time and looking to go one better than the sensational second place he scored on his debut, March’s 100 Acre Wood Rally.
But Olympus – one of America’s most famous events as it was the name of the country’s World Rally Championship counter between 1986 and 1988 – is different. Where Missouri was fast, Washington is technical, tricky and very, very twisty.
“I like that,” said Oliver.
“I drove a lot on the quadbike in the narrow places, diving between the trees at really high speed – it’s good; you have to be really accurate and you have to make sure the car is following you all the time.”
What does it mean to have the car following you?
“You have to have a set-up from the car which you are comfortable with and basically, you have to make sure the car does what you want it to do all the time. I do this by running a set-up with the differentials quite open, the way I like to drive the car is similar to how my dad drives. It’s important that you can take confidence from the car. If you can do that, it’s easier to be fast then.”
The Olympus Rally organisers provide onboard videos of the stages planned for the latest round of the American Rally Association series and Oliver has busied himself with watching them.
“I didn’t drive a rally car for five weeks or something like that,” he said. “That’s too long! I don’t like to be away from the car for so much time. But, that has given me good time to watch the videos and get a good idea of what the stages are going to be like. I’ve been careful not to watch the videos too much. I want an overview, I’m not trying to memorise the roads, I will work on getting that right during the recce.”
What do you think of the roads?
“Very good. Not as fast as 100 Acre Wood and much more twisty and narrow, but I think they will be a lot of fun. The weather can also play quite a big part of this rally. John Buffum (American rally legend and Subaru Motorsports USA team member) told me it will rain here, but not for long: like short, heavy showers. This will make conditions changeable and potentially quite challenging.
“In places, the roads look quite a lot like the ones we see on Rally GB. As well as that, there are some big rocks around, so we’ll have to keep an eye out for those.”
Can you win?
“It’s possible, but when you look at the experience David [Higgins, team-mate] has, it’s going to be really tricky. Like I said, these roads are quite complicated and there’s going to be a lot of work to do in the notes. Last time, the 100 Acre Woods roads were big, fast, wide and not so tricky to read. These are really different.
“I think we go to Olympus pushing for another podium, but I would love the chance to win!”
Start: April 27
Finish: April 28
Based: Shelton, Washington