Solberg scores dominant win at Rally Estonia
Oliver Solberg delivered yet another spellbinding, spectacular and startling performance to dominate what was expected to be a tight fight for the Shell Helix Rally Estonia R5 category.
Oliver led from the first stage (by 14.8 seconds), and nobody got close to him for the following 14 stages and won by 1m28.5s. In the words of his triple world champion father Petter, it was: “an unbelievable performance.”
But, as Oliver keeps turning in these amazing results, the 17-year-old’s fantastic speed is more and more believable.
Based out of Otepää, the rally – which is classified as an official World Rally Championship Promotional Event – is used widely by the world’s leading WRC manufacturers and drivers as a warm-up for next month’s Neste Rally Finland.
The entry for Shell Helix Rally Estonia is arguably the strongest national field outside of the WRC calendar with more top-line factory drivers than any other domestic event in the world. Without a doubt, it was Oliver’s biggest test yet. Certainly, the biggest since he re-wrote history in the FIA European Rally Championship – when Oliver won Rally Liepãja (Latvia, May 25/26) to become the youngest winner of the world’s oldest rally championship.
Once again, Oliver passed that test. And this time with truly flying colours. Flying being operative word. In order to bring that genuine Rally Finland feeling across the Baltic Sea, the Rally Estonia organisers built more jumps into the road to offer the crews some serious air time.
Oliver flew further and faster than ever before in a rally car – and actually hurt his back with a couple of heavy landings. But when he reached the finish almost a minute and a half ahead of his nearest class rival and only 24 seconds behind the last of the fastest World Rally Cars ever made, he couldn’t have been happier.
“When you look at the entry for Estonia, you know this is going to be a big challenge,” said Oliver. “Every team from the world championship was here; M-Sport was here with its new [R5] car and that was driven by [Teemu] Suninen – the guy who finished second on the last round of the World Rally Championship in Sardinia.
“I knew this competition would be tough.
“From the start, my focus was on just driving my rally – not looking to anybody else. It was like [Rally] Liepãja for that. Aaron [Johnston, co-driver] and I wanted to do our thing. We just got on with it. We had good notes, a good recce and I just drove the car.
“When we got into the lead and we were still taking time out of people then I started to manage the driving a bit more to control the gap. To be honest, to come here and do what we’ve done, I’m still thinking about it a little bit.
“Yes, OK, we’ve had some small issues – we lost the power steering for a while and had a couple more things to work on – but I’m very, very happy with this result.”
Petter added: “This one was a very good result, a really strong result. Oliver drove exactly like he said he wanted to, he didn’t take big risks and he did his own thing."
Oliver’s Shell Helix Rally Estonia – the analysis:
SS1 Fastest R5, 6th fastest o/a (leads R5 by 14.8s)
SS2 2nd fastest, R5, 8th fastest o/a, (leads R5 by 23.2s – 5th o/a)
SS3 Fastest R5, 6th fastest o/a, (leads R5 by 35.3s – 5th o/a)
SS4 2nd fastest R5, 9th fastest o/a (leads R5 by 44.2s – 6th o/a)
SS5 2nd fastest R5, 7th fastest o/a (leads R5 by 50.3s – 6th o/a)
SS6 Fastest R5, 7th fastest o/a (leads R5 by 58.5s – 6th o/a)
SS7 2nd fastest R5, 7th fastest o/a (leads R5 by 1m06.2s – 6th o/a)
SS8 Fastest R5, 7th fastest o/a (leads R5 by 1m11.5s – 6th o/a)
SS9 3rd fastest R5, 8th fastest o/a (leads R5 by 1m09.5s – 6th o/a)
SS10 2nd fastest R5, 9th fastest o/a (leads R5 by 1m14.5s – 6th o/a)
SS11 2nd fastest R5, 8th fastest o/a (leads R5 by 1m20.5s – 7th o/a)
SS12 2nd fastest R5, 9th fastest o/a (leads R5 by 1m24.9s – 7th o/a)
SS13 5th fastest R5, 12th fastest o/a (leads R5 by 1m23.3s – 7th o/a)
SS14 Fastest R5, 6th fastest o/a (leads R5 by 1m29.8s – 7th o/a)
SS15 4th fastest R5, 9th fastest o/a (leads R5 by 1m28.5s – 7th o/a)