2019 couldn’t have started any better for Oliver Solberg. While most are still trying to shrug off the hazy holiday lag, Oliver was busy tearing up the crisp snowy stages of Rally Aluksne in Latvia last weekend.
What’s more the 17 year old - who ended his 2018 season by being crowned RallyX Nordic Champion - did it all at the wheel of a car borrowed from his Triple FIA World Champion father. The Volkswagen Polo R5 machine - which Petter hustled around the twisting stages of WRC Spain in October last year - was Oliver’s first taste of four-wheel drive R5 class machinery in full competition.
Pairing up with his new co-driver Aaron Johnston - from Northern Ireland - Oliver quickly got to work by taking three stage wins on day one, and then finishing day two with a 16 second lead over nearest rival Valeriy Gorban.
After the rally, Oliver said: “It’s an incredible feeling to get my first ever overall rally win, and on our R5 debut too. I’m honestly so, so happy with this one! Huge thanks to my co-driver Aaron Johnston, my fantastic team ,for giving me a great car, and all my partners for making this possible!
I had my first career overall stage win on SS5 at Rally Aluksne and then another two stage wins on SS6 & SS8! The switch from R2 to R5 is quite a big step. Not just in speed, but also in driving style, and how the car moves and reacts. I feel like I learned all I can in the R2 class, and I felt ready to step up to a new car. Now I have to drive differently again (in R5) to the pace notes; but I actually think it’s easier to race a four-wheel drive car.
This particular (Polo) is unique because my father drove this car in Spain last year. It’s chassis number one - so it’s his car, but I’m borrowing it for the championship this year. It’s a fast car and a really well developed platform by Volkswagen Motorsport, so I think it’s going to be on a good level going against the Skoda.
The plan so far is to contest the Latvian Championship in the R5 class; but I have some more news coming soon also…”