Solberg and Subaru reunited in rallying
For almost a decade, the names Solberg and Subaru were woven into a world championship-winning tapestry. Brothers in arms, the two were inseparable in the pursuit of excellence, success, glory.
And now, they’re back: Solberg and Subaru together again.
But this time, it’s Oliver not Petter behind the wheel.
And, 10 years on from Subaru’s departure from the World Rally Championship, it’s the American Rally Association where Solberg Jr will drive Subaru Motorsports USA’s 2019 WRX STI.
In an emotive move the son of Norway’s first and only World Rally Champion, Oliver will drive six American Rally Association rounds.
Oliver said: “I don’t think anybody could begin to understand what a big deal this is for me. I was two years old when my father was World Rally Champion and remember so well how proud I was of dad wearing blue and yellow and driving a car of the same colour. I even still today have the Subaru bed sheets.
“For me to have the chance to wear the same colours and drive under the same name is something unbelievable. I have to say a very big thank you to Subaru Motorsports USA for this opportunity.”
Oliver is, however, quick to add that there’s more to the season ahead than a fast car and new threads.
“I don’t know of a team anywhere in world motorsport that has created the same sort of success that Subaru Motorsports USA has managed,” said Oliver.
“Subaru has won America’s major rally title for 13 of the last 14 seasons and to join a team with that level of success brings a fantastic opportunity, but at the same time there’s a responsibility to continue this incredible run of success.”
Oliver will tackle six American Rally Association rounds in a Subaru WRX STI, with his first outing at 100 Acre Wood Rally in Missouri.
“I can’t wait to get started,” said the 17-year-old Swede. “I’ve watched the sport grow in America over the last couple of years and the chance to get out and drive this car on some of the world’s finest roads is amazing.”
The poignancy of the moment isn’t lost on Petter. Subaru’s 2003 World Rally Champion said: “I think everybody knows Subaru has always and will always be close to my heart. For almost 10 years, Subaru was my life and we made an incredible story together. To have Oliver driving for that manufacturer is fantastic for me. And, for sure, there will be some emotion for Pernilla [Petter’s wife] and me when we see him climbing into that car for the first time at a rally.
“This is a special moment for this family.”
Oliver and co-driver Aaron Johnston will join defending American Rally Association champions David Higgins and Craig Drew in the Subaru Motorsports USA squad.
David said: “It’s very cool to have a Solberg driving a Subaru again. A generation of rally fans grew up watching Petter doing incredible things in a blue and yellow car with gold wheels – to see that Solberg name on the side of one of these cars will be mega.
“We did Wales Rally GB in a Subaru liveried the same as Colin McRae’s 1995 title-winning car in 2015 and the response to that was huge. People have such fondness and affection for these colours; when I heard we were going back to the blue and yellow livery for this year I was delighted.
“I don’t know Oliver all that well, I haven’t competed against him before, but he’s a Solberg and I think we all know what that means! It’s fantastic to have him in the team with us this season.”
Oliver’s American Rally Association 2019 programme
100 Acre Wood Rally, Missouri (March 15/16)
Olympus Rally, Washington (April 27/28)
Idaho Rally, Idaho (June 22/23)
New England Forest Rally (NEFR), Maine (July 19/20)
Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally (STPR), Pennsylvania (September 13/14)
Lake Superior Performance Rally (LSPR), Michigan, (October 18/19)