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Images from the 2019 edition of Rally Liepaja
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Oliver Solberg Re-Writes Rally History

May 272019

17 years and 245 days; Oliver Solberg’s winning time to become the youngest winner of a FIA European Rally Championship (ERC) event.

Total domination would be a more accurate phrase for the young Norwegian’s performance at Rally Liepāja in Latvia, as he set the fastest time on 10 of the 13 stages of the latest round of the ERC. The result now also takes Oliver to four wins from five rallies this season alone.

The 17-year-old arrived in Liepāja looking to take a third straight Latvian Rally Championship win aboard his Circle K-backed Volkswagen Polo GTI R5.

Oliver promptly won the Qualifying Stage, then he won the opening stage. And the next one. And the one after that.

By the end of a sunny and dusty Saturday, Oliver and his Northern Irish co-driver Aaron Johnston built a 9.7-second advantage over their nearest rival. Only sliding wide in a right-hand junction mid-way through the third stage cost him the chance to dominate every test.

Sunday brought a further eight stages and 106.50km of competition.

Three stages into day two and Oliver had doubled his lead at the top of the table. From then on, it was about delivering a dream. Not even rutted roads and the onset of rain could derail this amazing story.

And, naturally, he sealed the biggest win of his young life with fastest time on the 13th and final stage.

Oliver said: “Now I really don’t know what to say. What can I say? This is the biggest moment of my life, the biggest day of my life. Honestly, I came here and I wanted to have a look. Of course, I wanted to be at the front, but this is the European championship and it’s a level up from where I am competing.

 

“In the shakedown, I wanted to make some changes to the car and the notes weren’t quite perfect. I pushed in the Qualifying Stage and we came out fastest. I have to say a big thank you to my team – they made the car so comfortable for me. I have no problems at all and all the time I was taking the confidence that I could push and push harder.

 

“On Saturday it was a little bit difficult sometimes with the dust and we had some dust coming to the [inside of the] car. And today (Sunday) I had to be a little bit careful in the ruts, especially under braking for the slower corners – probably I should have raised the car a little bit for the second loop of stages.

 

“But, hey, I’m still learning!

 

“I want to say a big thank you to everybody at the European Rally Championship, I have been made to feel so welcome here. And to become the youngest ever winner of an ERC round is unbelievable for me. I’m so proud to do this. What a day for me and Aaron. Fantastic!”

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