Solberg escapes Roma disqualification for testing violation

Early drama for Oliver Solberg before his asphalt debut had even begun

Swedish Rally Lockdown 2020-06-07 Foto Tony WelamOliver Solberg

Oliver Solberg has escaped a disqualification from Rally di Roma, the opening round of the European Rally Championship, after violating pre-event testing rules.

Solberg took part in a two-day test with P.A. Racing, the preparation firm running his Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 on Rally di Roma earlier this week.

However, they failed to notify organizers of their test plans, as required by Article 12.13 of the Supplementary Regulations.

They also exceeded the maximum amount of testing days allowed in host countries during the two weeks prior to an ERC rally, which is limited to a single day.

Rally di Roma stewards established through Solberg’s own social media posts that he had exceeded this limit, testing on two consecutive days.

For his testing violation Solberg was handed a suspended disqualification, meaning he will still be able to participate in Rally di Roma. However, he will be excluded from a future ERC event should he be caught flouting testing rules during the remainder of the 2020 ERC season.

His suspended disqualification only applies to ERC rallies and does not affect his WRC3 programme.

Solberg was also fined €6000 – €3000 per day – for the testing infringement.

“The drivers [Solberg and co-driver Aaron Johnston] explained that they were not aware of the regulation concerned,” read a statement from the stewards.

“Even so, the co-driver has read the regulations, he did not read Art. 12.13 of the Supplementary Regulations carefully. The drivers admit that it was a mistake and they apologize for this lapse.”

The Stewards noted that a suspended disqualification was necessary to avoid competitors breaking the rules on purpose to rack up extra testing miles in exchange for a fine.

“An infringement before the start of the competitive elements of the rally in general should not be be penalised by time penalties.

“On the other hand, it should not be possible for a competitor to ‘buy’ test days just by paying fines.

“The Stewards had to make a clear statement, that the driver must follow the regulation at all time[s], thus also before the actual competition.”