Oliver ready for fierce competition in Estonia
Oliver Solberg starts next week’s Rally Estonia chasing experience from the most competitive event he’s ever entered.
All four factory World Rally Championship manufacturer teams are present and the world’s latest R5 category car – M-Sport’s Ford Fiesta R5 – is scheduled to make its debut in the hands of the British team’s WRC driver Teemu Suninen.
“It is just like a WRC round,” said Oliver. “OK, we are missing some of the stars, but when you see guys like Ott Tänak and Esapekka Lappi – both Rally Finland winners – then you know you are in a serious race.
“For me, I’m only interested to the R5 guys. But with Suninen and [Takamoto] Katsuta and some of the other top WRC 2 drivers there, it’s going to be really interesting to look at what they’re doing and see where we are.”
Oliver contested Rally Estonia last season, but the Peugeot 208 R2 is a very different proposition to his Volkswagen Polo GTI R5.
Oliver added: “Estonia’s only my fourth start in the Polo and only my seventh in a four-wheel drive car, I’m still learning a little bit…”
Fortunately, he’s a fast learner. He’s won four of the six rallies he’s started this season, including an epic victory at Rally Liepāja – a success which wrote him into the history books as the youngest ever winner of a European Rally Championship round.
“Like always, I’m really looking forward to the rally,” said Oliver, who heads straight to Estonia from driving alongside his three-time world champion father Petter Solberg at Goodwood’s Festival of Speed.
“The stages for Rally Estonia are some of the fastest of the season. It’s not hard to understand why the guys are coming here to practice before they start Rally Finland!
“There are some jumps and some really interesting places. I enjoyed it in the R2 car last year, but this time I think I’m really going to love it in the R5!”
Saturday July 13
9 stages, 91.78km
Sunday July 14
6 stages, 60.20km