Oliver ends his maiden WRC season in style at rally monza!
Oliver ends his maiden WRC 3 season with more stage wins than anybody
Monster Energy driver is fastest Rally2 driver on final stage of the season in Italy
The 19-year-old delivers a beautifully crafted, quick and mature drive to second in WRC3 at Rally Monza
“Crazy rally! But definitely one of the best. Unbelievable way to end the year!”
What did you expect? What did you expect when the youngest driver ever to win a round of the European Rally Championship stepped up to the World Rally Championship? You expected a year like the one Oliver Solberg has just had.
Prior to 2020, Oliver had tackled just a single round of the World Rally Championship. As the season comes to a close, he’s done six more events at the sport’s highest level. He set top-three class times on them all and won stages on five of the six.
Nobody won more stages in WRC 3 than Oliver and co-driver Aaron Johnston this season. Nobody has led the WRC 3 category for more stages this season. He’s finished two of his six events in the top 10 overall.
This has been a learning year. Solberg style. And what a way to end it… with a commanding stage win at the final act of ACI Rally Monza.
“It’s been weird,” is the teenager’s reflection on 2020. “Weird and fantastic. When coronavirus was really starting to come when we were in México in March, I don’t think anybody could have imagined the year we would have had. Before I talk a little about the driving, I want to thank everybody, ŠKODA Motorsport, all the team, everybody at Monster Energy, Volkswagen Motorsport, all of my sponsors, my family and all the people in the sport who have made this year happen.
“We have seen some very tough times for the world in 2020 and to be able to bring a little bit of normal-ness and to bring some smiles to the faces of rally fans is something special.
“Now, let’s start with this week in Monza. Crazy! I know I said that word a lot, but honestly, it was just incredible at times how the grip was changing. Literally, from one corner to the next one you just had no idea what was beneath the tyres, was it snow? Ice? Gravel? Grass? To do a rally like this was incredible, so challenging.
“But to come out of it with some good times and to be second R5 (Rally2) car is a really big thing for me. I’m very happy for what me and Aaron did on this one.”
Oliver’s father – 2003 World Rally Champion Petter Solberg – is a man who knows a thing or two about tough conditions. He was impressed with what his boy achieved.
Petter said: “This was a rally which was going to favour some of the older guys, some of the guys who have more experience of some of those conditions. I have to say… can I swear? No, OK. I will just say that this was one of the best from Oliver. He drove so sensible, but where he wanted to push, he was very, very fast. Fantastic.
“It’s incredible to think it’s only just over a year since me and him were racing together at Rally GB. Pernilla and me, we are proud parents. Very proud!”
For Oliver, this is just the beginning.
“I want to start next season tomorrow,” he grinned. “Honestly, this has been an incredible year. I learned so much. So, so much. OK, tough at the beginning of the year. I understand Monte [Carlo Rally] can bite, we took the puncture in Sweden and then a rock damaged the engine in México, but after that things were coming better and better.
“Winning my class and being the fastest R5 (Rally2) in Estonia was a really special moment for me. I loved that event! But this is a good way to end the season. Monza has been an incredible rally and another place to come to learn so much.”
Seventh overall, second in WRC 3, second Rally2 car and the widest smile for miles. That was Oliver’s farewell to 2020.