Oliver maintains strong ERC record on ŠKODA Tarmac debut
19-year-old Oliver Solberg wins stages with fantastic Sunday fightback
Monster Energy driver finishes fourth to remain in the ERC title battle
Strong ŠKODA asphalt debut from Oliver in Hungary
Oliver Solberg stormed back up the Rally Hungary leaderboard today (Sunday), eclipsing the disappointment of two punctures on Saturday to come within an ace of a podium on the European Rally Championship counter.
Driving a ŠKODA Fabia Rally2 evo for the first time on Tarmac, the 19-year-old dropped to ninth overall with a pair of punctures on Saturday afternoon’s loop of stages.
Today, he put his lack of competitive experience of the car (and the surface – don’t forget this is only Oliver’s third ever asphalt rally) and got on with making time back.
The Monster Energy driver started the day 1m15s off third place. By the end of the rally, that gap had narrowed to 4.5 seconds. Second fastest across the course of the day, he was close. Just not quite close enough.
“Fourth place is not so bad,” said Oliver. “Of course, it’s frustrating to be so close to third, but I’m happy with the speed we showed today to bring down that gap.
“This was the first time I competed with the ŠKODA on Tarmac and these stages were really not easy ones. They were nice roads, but the changes in grip and the surface – going from mud, to lots of mud to dry, then wet… it made it really complicated. But that’s why I’m here. I wanted to learn from this rally and I really learned a lot. A lot.”
Oliver has now started five ERC rounds, won two and finished in the top four places on four from those five. That impressive set of results means he’s in the thick of the race for this year’s European title.
Oliver was quick to thank Eurosol Racing Team Hungary, the squad running the Fabia Rally2 evo and ŠKODA Motorsport itself, which provided technical support to strengthen the partnership.
“The car and the team have been perfect,” he said. “We have worked well together and made some changes to the set-up of the car which have really improved the speed through the weekend. Like I said, it was a really tricky event with lots of places and lots of corners which could catch you out. It was so hard to read and try to understand how much grip there was, but so useful to test the tyres and to find out what’s possible with each compound in the different conditions.
“I wanted to be on the podium, but this is OK. The punctures yesterday were frustrating, but this is part of the game as well.
“Before I go, if I can, I would like to say congratulations to Andreas [Mikkelsen]. He drove fantastic, coming here and making the times he did. Big well done to him.”