Oliver lands Portuguese points, experience and a fantastic jump in Fafe
Oliver Solberg furthered his World Rally Championship experience with a stage-winning and points-paying WRC2 debut at Vodafone Rally de Portugal.
The Monster Energy driver delivered an inch-perfect performance across one of the most complicated and tricky rounds of the world championship. Oliver placed his Hyundai i20 R5 fifth in WRC2 and 11th overall.
Given his complete absence of experience of the westernmost gravel roads in the WRC, Oliver went into the rally with a strategy which would pay dividends in both points and practice.
The 19-year-old was keen to push to chase another class win at the sport’s highest level, but knew he needed experience of what is recognised as one of the more technical rallies.
Oliver said: “What a way to finish a rally! Flying over that jump in Fafe was really something so special!
“It was nice to win some stages here, but I have to say Portugal is definitely not such an easy event.
“When I finished the recce I really started to understand how much of a challenge this would be. I had heard a lot of stories about how tricky the Portuguese roads can be to make pacenotes on; there are a lot of corners over crests and just lots of quite complicated sections. But until you get here and drive the roads for yourself, you can’t fully understand it.
“When I come to events like this for the first time, it’s so important for me to learn and to take the experience from the rally. That’s what I was doing this week. During the rally I made some decisions for the tyre choice which I knew were a little bit marginal, but I knew they would give me lots of experience for the future.
“For example, I was crossing the tyres and used a mixture of hard and soft Pirellis for the first time – this meant the grip was really good in some corners and a little bit compromised in some others. This is what we have to do when we have a limited selection of tyres on these kind of rallies – it’s all about the compromise and making the best of what we have.
“I have learned so much this week – and so much that will help me going forwards.
“I will be honest and tell you this isn’t the result I was hoping for, but I’m happy with the experience. And I’m really happy and grateful for the team and everybody at Hyundai who worked with us this weekend.
“Also a big thank you to the organisers here in Portugal. They did a fantastic job and now I’m really looking forward to Sardinia!”
Oliver now returns to the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC for next week’s Rally Italia Sardegna.