Oliver delivers stunning win on the world stage
18-year-old scores first WRC points with stunning Rally Estonia class win
Faultless drive from the Monster Energy-backed driver to take ninth overall
Wins nine from 17 stages in WRC3; second fastest on seven
“Now I know my world championship speed and I’m happy.”
A Solberg standing on the roof of his car is nothing new in the World Rally Championship.
Oliver followed firmly in family footsteps set down by his World Champion father Petter with a stunning victory at Rally Estonia, dominating Rally2 and finishing a staggering ninth overall.
Monster Energy driver Oliver was on commanding form through the Tartu-based WRC round to win WRC3 and place his family run Volkswagen Polo R5 at the very top of the classification for Rally2 machinery. A top-10 result means WRC points for the first time in his career.
Rally2 cars are the backbone of the second tier of the WRC – it’s where the champions of tomorrow are found. This weekend Oliver drove the drive of a champion.
Through a changeable opening day, Oliver and co-driver Aaron Johnston showed both supreme speed and total confidence to move into a clear lead. If Saturday was about outrageous pace, Sunday was about exceptional rally management. Eighteen-year-old Oliver drove like a seasoned professional from the first until the final stage.
“I’m so happy,” said Oliver. “We made a good result on this rally last year (WRC Promotional event, where Oliver finished seventh overall). I thought it was possible to make a podium finish, but I just didn’t know how would be the speed against the other R5 factory cars. Now I know my world championship speed and I’m happy.
“To make this result, to win and to be in the top-10 overall is amazing. Yesterday we were pushing in some places, but when it was tricky – and sometimes it was really tricky – or on the small roads I was taking it more sensibly. We had two punctures on the first day and that made me even more cautious in sometimes. Once we had built the advantage, I wanted to take two spare wheels to protect this result.
“Estonia was a lot of fun this weekend. I love these fast roads. OK, we have had some ruts in some places, but that’s good for the experience to understand how the car is working in these conditions.”
Understandably, Petter was a very happy father on Sunday afternoon.
“Oliver’s speed has been very, very impressive here,” said the three-time FIA world champion. “We have seen with his wins in Latvia that he likes the fast stages, but to come here and do this at the WRC level was really special.
“He was really in control of this thing. It was not easy to be running in the ruts and in the conditions which were changing, but he was so sensible and so clever. This is good. Do you think he takes after me?”
Oliver’s next outing will be on the Rally Fafe Montelongo (October 2-4), where he will continue his pursuit of the European Rally Championship.
“We made a good start in ERC,” said Oliver, “so it’s nice to go to these rallies to push for the championship. There are no clashes with our WRC programme, so it’s no problem for us to do both [WRC3 and ERC].”