Solberg father vs son duel set for ERC Sweden

Oliver Solberg will go up against father Petter as he looks to defend his Royal Rally of Scandinavia crown


Father versus son. Solberg versus Solberg. Oliver versus Petter. It’s both a battle of the generations and a battle for the ages. And it’s happening at next month’s Royal Rally of Scandinavia, round three of the European Rally Championship season, on June 13-15.

Petter Solberg announced last week he would end a five-year hiatus by taking on Sweden’s ERC round next month in the same Volkswagen Polo R5 that his son Oliver used to win the event last year. Now Solberg junior has revealed that he will return to defend his crown; not just from the European Rally Championship regulars but from his father too.

It was Oliver who convinced the 2003 World Rally Champion to bring the Polo out of hibernation. But that conversation also spurred him on to enter the rally himself.

“It was my idea,” Solberg said. “Obviously, now I’m with Škoda, I can’t drive the car I used last year – so I was telling Dad: ‘Come on! Take the Polo, go and have some fun!’ He didn’t take much persuading.

“And then once he was all sorted, then I knew I had to find a way to drive on the same event and against him.”

This isn’t the first time the Solbergs have faced off. Back in 2019, they competed at Wales Rally GB in a pair of Polo R5s. On that occasion, it was Solberg senior that came out on top by winning WRC2 and finishing 10th overall.

The younger Solberg retired with damage following a shunt but he is a much more experienced driver now. 2019 was his first full season in a four-wheel drive car as he dovetailed programs in the ERC, ARA and Latvian championship (which he won).

Now Solberg is a WRC2 regular and currently sits second in the standings. So, does he expect a different outcome this time round?

“Maybe it’s time for some revenge,” he laughed. “Seriously, it’s just going to be really nice to compete on another event with my father. Of course, it’s going to be interesting to look to the times and, yes, probably when I’m at the end of the stage, his is going to be the first one I look for.”


Solberg couldn't resist entering Royal Rally of Scandinavia to take on father Petter, and prepare for upcoming fast gravel events in the WRC

Father Petter on the other hand is playing down his chances: “I don’t go there trying to win, it’s for the show and to enjoy the driving” he explained, “We know there are a lot of very fast drivers in ERC – it’s one hell of a competition. It will be tough.

“It’s five years since I did Rally GB, nothing since then. The speed is incredible in the championship and you can’t just switch it back on.”

Son Oliver believes his father could still pose a threat, however.

“I think he can be fast” he said, “We were doing some driving together over the winter and he’s still got it, he was still right there.

“I think he talked a little bit about the pacenotes – this is probably going to be the more complicated part for him, putting all the trust in the notes again is tricky after so long time away.”


Oliver Solberg sits second in the WRC2 standings despite crashing out of Rally Portugal

Whatever the result, you can bet that both drivers will have a blast. Don’t think for one moment they won’t be trying though. When asked what he was looking for from the weekend, Solberg’s response was unequivocal.

“To beat him, of course. And to win!”

In addition to the Solbergs another championship-winning Swede has joined the field for an ERC cameo: Johan Kristoffersson. The six-time World Rallycross champion pulled off a last-minute plan to enter his local round of the ERC and will compete with his family team’s Volkswagen Polo GTI R5. Kristoffersson has also been reunited with former co-driver Stig Rune Skjærmoen.

“I haven’t driven a gravel rally in the forest for five years, so expectations are low,” Kristoffersson admitted “It would have been nice to prepare properly, but there’s simply no time for that, so we’ll take it as it comes. It’s still fun to be the underdog for a change.”