How Solberg’s best friend won Junior ERC

Swedish teenager Isak Reiersen on only his second ERC outing took a fine win on the Royal Rally of Scandinavia

Reiersen Isak

Oliver Solberg’s best friend must have been beside himself when the man of the moment clambered down from the roof of his Volkswagen and gave him a shout-out on live television.

But Solberg’s best friend was happy anyway. He’d just won a round of the Junior European Rally Championship at the second time of asking.

“It’s seven years ago we won crosskarts together, the same time in different classes, and now we won our first rally together,” Solberg told DirtFish.

“It’s an awesome feeling.”

Isak Reiersen is a name perhaps better known to rallycross fans than rally, but the 19-year-old Swede has been setting hot pace in the Swedish championship this year along with rival Patrik Hallberg.

Reiersen Isak

Despite the pair making one-off ERC appearances on Royal Rally of Scandinavia, they locked out the top two positions in what proved to be an engaging, and unpredictable, battle.

Reiersen looked to have it all under control after day one. Fastest on all but one of the leg’s eight stages, the Ford Fiesta Rally4 pilot shot into a 20.9-second lead over Hallberg – Fiestas poignantly locking out the top three positions on the final day the road car will ever be produced by Ford.

Midway through Saturday morning and Reiersen had stretched his lead beyond the half-minute mark, but then things started to unravel for the runaway leader as he explained to DirtFish.

“We had really good pace yesterday – I’m happy with that, a little bit surprised,” he said.

“We had over a 30s lead and then we hit one of these anti-cut [devices] so got a puncture around 4km from the finish, and at 2km from the finish it was all rim.”

And that wasn’t all. The post-stage tire change was fairly dramatic too.

“We had some problems with the wheel nuts being stuck,” Reiersen said, “so we had to use rocks and everything to hit and loosen them. A little bit too much drama!

“Then we had to restart the rally again from zero after what we had built up.”

And Reiersen’s not kidding. After his puncture, he had fallen to just 0.4s behind Hallberg with five stages left to run.

Game on.

Reiersen Isak

Reiersen responded to the pressure well, immediately retaking the lead he had lost and building it back up to 9.5s two stages from home that he duly protected to take a well-earned maiden Junior ERC win.

“It’s amazing, it’s something I couldn’t dream of before the start,” he smiled.

“Patrik and I have been fighting in the Swedish championship all year, and it’s a good demonstration of where our pace is. We are fast, and we are happy with that.

“It shows that Sweden may have some good future in rally.”

Despite having a sniff of the win, Hallberg could only be happy with second place.


“Of course you want to win, but it’s my [ERC] debut so I’m really happy with the result,” he told DirtFish.

“I did not expect to be this far up in the order. It’s only my 20th rally or something overall so I can’t be [anything] other than happy.”

Both drivers aren’t expected to return to ERC this season, but stated their intentions to return in the future.

Behind the all-Swedish fight for first, Norbert Maior drove a clean rally to round out the podium in his Peugeot, just 4.4s clear of Roberto Daprà’s similar 208 Rally4.

Daprà’s advantage over fifth-placed Mille Johansson was similarly slight at just 4.1s, while championship leader Ola Nore Jr’s unbeaten start to 2023 came to a halt in Sweden as the Norwegian could only manage sixth.

Max McRae

DirtFish-backed Max McRae again showed the speed to challenge with the very best, running as the best of the rest behind the leading Swedes on Friday.

But the 19-year-old was forced to retire towards the end of Friday when he punctured and then a steering arm snapped when the inside-wheel clipped a wheel when on full lock.