- Too young for a road licence, but wins rally
- Son of Solberg shines in Sweden for Subaru
- First time on route, first win for Oliver
Subaru Motorsports USA took the top two podium positions at a DirtFish Olympus Rally but it was teenage Swedish rally prodigy Oliver Solberg who scored his first American rally victory in his blue and gold Subaru WRX STI.
Solberg, son of 2003 Swedish rally ace Petter Solberg, was fast and consistent throughout the weekend, despite having never seen the Olympus stages and working with veteran co-driver Denis Giraudet for the first time.
Defending ARA champion David Higgins pushed hard on Sunday but was unable to catch his team-mate and finished second.
It was an emotional moment for the Solberg family with Oliver’s legendary father Petter and mother Pernilla watching,
Solberg jnr said later: “Winning my first event for Subaru is an amazing feeling. This is my first time at the Olympus Rally and I’m working with a new co-driver – plus, I was first on the road all weekend which meant the surface was very loose.
”The Saturday stages boosted my confidence and Denis and I pushed as hard as we could on the final stage to hold on for the win.
“My mom was first to the car. Us Solbergs are an emotional family and this was an incredible, incredible, moment for us.”
STARTED DRIVING AGED SIX
Oliver Solberg even started his life at top speed! He was born in 2001 and watched his first World Rally championship event with his parents when he was on two years old.
More amazing, he was driving regularly before turning six! Several years in crosskarts – very fast, very light, buggies – with close racing on circuits and had his first win aged eight.
By 2012 he had won the Norwegian kart championship then, after a step up to a more senioir class, he won consecutive championships in 2014, 2015 and 2016.
He needed a new challenge. Rallying. At only 15 (in 2017) the Latvian Rally championship was one of the few in which he could compete – ”the perfect place to learn without too much pressure”, he explailned.
Two wins and several top performances in a Peugeot 208 R2 was a good start to life on the rally stages.
Oliver went one step better in 2018 by becoming the 2018 RallyX Nordic champion with three wins, so becoming the youngest driver yet to compete in a World Rallycross Supercar.
“I don’t think anybody could begin to understand what a big deal this (the latest win) 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.
”Even today I have Subaru bed sheets. I don’t know of a team anywhere in world motorsport that’s created the same sort of success that Subaru Motorsports USA has managed – it’s an incredible honour to drive for them this year.”
‘ALWAYS CLOSE TO MY HEART’
The poignancy of the moment wasn’t lost on Petter. He told The Corner via a media release: “I think everybody knows Subaru always has and always will always be close to my heart.
”For almost 10 years, Subaru was my life and we made an incredible story together.”