Petter Solberg has warned the World Rally Championship world not to expect miracles from his son Oliver at this week’s Monte Carlo Rally.
Solberg Jr, who made his WRC debut at Wales Rally GB in October, has never competed on asphalt before and goes to the French Alps as a complete novice.
After the first day of the recce, the 18-year-old admitted the Monte is already looking like the most difficult event he’s started.
Oliver, who will drive his Volkswagen Polo R5 in France, told DirtFish: “I never saw anything like this before. We did a test before the event, but it was dry.
“Where I come from we have snow every year, but we’re always on the right tyre for it! Everybody talks so much about the Monte and how much compromise you need with the tyres and the car, but when you get here and see the ice for the first time. It’s going to be a tough one!
“He never drove on Tarmac before, he needs the experience. For the conditions, I hope he gets a really tough Monte"Petter Solberg
Three-time world champion – once in rallying, twice in rallycross – Solberg Sr admitted he and Oliver had talked more about this one event than any other.
“The Monte can be a real nightmare,” he said. “I remember the first time I came to this event [in 2001], I was fast, but I made a mistake. I don’t want Oliver to do that. This is a rally that needs respect.
“We talked a lot about the approach and how he needs to treat this one as a fast recce. He’s a non-priority driver here, there’s no expectation, there’s no need for him to make any risk.
“He needs to enjoy it and take the experience – it’s another year before you can come back and drive these roads and these conditions again.
“He never drove on Tarmac before, he needs the experience. For the conditions, I hope Oliver gets a really tough Monte. If he gets lots of snow, ice and things are changing from corner to corner then he’s going to learn much more than if it’s just dry all the time.”
Petter’s top five Monte tips:
1 Do what I say, don’t do what I do…
I was fast when I first came to Monte Carlo. I was lying second, but then I crashed quite early. It’s so important not to be trying to push like crazy, the finish is where you will find all of the experience.
2 Be ready for anything
The conditions will change all the time. This looks like it’s going to be a really challenging Monte – especially on the Friday.
3 Knowledge is power
If I was going to come back and do this event properly myself one more time, the thing I would change is having more people helping me. You need people in the stages telling you how is the road. If you know there are three really bad corners on the Turini, have three people there and get them to tell you what’s happening – those small details make a big difference!
4 Stay calm
This rally is like no other one – you know you will lose a lot of time in some places when you are on the wrong tyre. If you take a slick because SS2 is more dry, then relax about losing 30 seconds on the ice in stage one. Have confidence that you will take that time back on stage two. But the main thing is not to get stressed. This is what I tell to Oliver, he will lose time, but he needs to be cool with that.
It’s Monte Carlo, one of the most famous rallies in the world. Get out there, understand that you’re driving a really, really cool event and have fun!