Oliver honoured to make ŠKODA debut at home in Sweden (and Norway)
Oliver Solberg makes his debut in a factory-supported ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo at this week’s Rally Sweden.
As long as he could walk and talk, Oliver has had one aim. That aim has been to follow his mum and dad into the world of rallying. And preferably to walk the same winners’ road his papa took to the 2003 World Rally Championship title. Next week is another big step on that road. Oliver made his WRC debut at Wales Rally GB last season and competed on his first ever Rallye Monte-Carlo last month, driving his family’s Volkswagen Polo R5.
Now he moves up again. He drives a ŠKODA in co-operation with the famous Mladá Boleslav brand for the first time. And he does it at home.
“It’s such an honour,” said Oliver, “to drive the ŠKODA for the first time in competition – and even more so to do it on my home round of the WRC.
“ŠKODA is a team which has always been in the world championship for as long as I can remember – it’s the team Colin McRae drove for sometimes! It’s also the team which has an incredible record for this class of car. To be given this opportunity by Mr. Hrabánek (Michal Hrabánek, ŠKODA Motorsport team principal) and the team is fantastic.”
Oliver and co-driver Aaron Johnston (Northern Ireland) tested the FABIA Rally2 evo in preparation for Rally Sweden earlier last month and both feel ready for the revised challenge facing WRC crews next week.
Unseasonably warm weather has forced the organisers of the Torsby-based event to redesign the itinerary, leaving out such classic stages as Vargåsen (most famous for the Colin’s Crest leap) and instead focusing the Friday-Saturday competition over the border in Norway.
“We live in the area close to the rally,” said Oliver, “so we have known that this would not be such an easy one. We have been missing the winter a lot. As a family we know these organisers, motor clubs and volunteers so well and we know how much work they put in to make this happen.
“They’re some of the best rally people in the world and if anybody can do it, they can.
“Lots of people are talking about what might happen with the weather, but right now nobody knows. It can snow like crazy from here until the start and then we’re going to have a very fine rally. Let’s be positive!
“And anyway, I’m doing the rally in a ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo with this fantastic team around me – this is my dream, so some warm weather’s not going to spoil that for me.”
In previous years, competitors on the event have thundered across the Sweden-Norway border at full-speed. This time the closest the action comes to the actual border is the all-new Nyckelvattnet test, which sits just inside Sweden.
“It’s really a bit of a strange feeling for this event,” smiled Oliver. “My mum is Swedish and my dad is Norwegian, so to be competing in both countries is really nice for me as I’m a little bit of both as well. To be super-perfect it would be really cool to have our home Mitandersfors stage included – this would go right past my bedroom window!”
Sweden marks the start of Oliver’s 2020 WRC 3 campaign.