Dealing with the WRC’s longest gap between rallies

What is a rally driver to do waiting six weeks for the next WRC round? We asked Oliver Solberg to find out


Six weeks. Or more precisely, 39 days, 22 hours and 35 minutes.

That’s how long the World Rally Championship’s drivers will have waited between the end of last month’s Rally Sweden, and the start of round three of the 2024 WRC; next week’s Safari Rally Kenya.

In motorsport, that time is an eternity. So, is such a long break frustrating for drivers used to chasing every tenth of a second on the stages? Not according to WRC2 star Oliver Solberg.

“It’s been quite a long break, but it’s actually quite nice,” he told DirtFish. “It gives me time to relax a little bit. I took myself up to the cottage [in the Swedish countryside] and did a bit of skiing. I caught up with as many friends and family as possible, celebrated a few birthdays, and just enjoyed life.

“When you have the time, it’s nice to do it.”

And of course, as a native of Sweden, Solberg made time for his second favorite sport too.

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Go somewhere warm on holiday? No chance for Solberg – he stayed in his native Sweden over the break

“I got to a few Färjestad [ice hockey club] games in Karlstad. They are one of the best teams in Sweden so I always go with my friends when I can. I played ice hockey quite a lot as a kid, so I like it a lot.”

While the joint-WRC2 points leader’s late winter break consisted of plenty of what most of us would describe as ‘normal’ activities, normal for the Solberg family really means only one thing: being behind the wheel of a rally car.

A shoot for Quadrant – the Lando Norris-founded entertainment and clothing brand with which Solberg is partnered – enabled the Rally Sweden class winner to get back out in a car testing presenter Max Fewtrell’s skills as a co-driver. But Oliver wasn’t the only Solberg behind the wheel in this shoot.

“My mother was driving again, she made her comeback!” exclaimed Solberg Jr. “It was her first time driving a Rally2 car, so that was quite cool. She and Elliott (Edmondson, Solberg’s regular co-driver) set a benchmark time and then Max and I had to go and beat it.

“We did two days of shooting all around co-driving, and it was really fun. It’s a really great video I think.”

To judge that for yourself, and find out whether Oliver could beat Pernilla’s time, have a watch below.

The freedom provided by a six-week break has also allowed Solberg to get creative. As a man with a keen eye on his social media channels, the Swede is always looking for fresh ideas to engage newcomers in the sport and provide a few laughs along the way.

A Valentine’s Day Instagram video, where Solberg appeared to choose a fetching pink G-string to wear under his fireproof overalls, did the trick on Rally Sweden. So, has he come up with any more ideas for Kenya?

“I have a few,” Solberg chuckles, “not just for Kenya but even further [into the calendar] too. I have quite a lot of ideas. Basically, I just want to do things that implement some normal life into rallying, that kind of thing, to try to get a different audience interested in the sport, and try to make some special stuff.

“I haven’t created so much content on socials lately, so it’s good I have some ideas now.”

While the 22-year-old has clearly enjoyed his time off, the serious business of preparing for his next rally has never been too far from his mind. A recent test in his Toksport-run Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 allowed Solberg to get reacquainted with driving on gravel; something he’s not done in the WRC since last October’s Rally Chile.

“It wasn’t really testing for Safari,” commented Solberg. “It was more like a gravel development test, but it was nice to get some mileage back [on gravel] after Chile, as that was actually quite a while [ago].


Rally Chile is the last time Solberg took on a gravel rally in a four-wheel-drive car – that's almost five months ago!

“I have driven on snow so much this winter, so it was actually very nice to get back on gravel and a warmer climate! We all need that this time of year. [Kenya] should be warm, so it should be nice.”

Next week will mark Solberg’s third Safari Rally Kenya start, and it’s an event he’s very fond of despite not yet securing a top result there. Last year, the Škoda driver was hit with a two-minute time penalty by the stewards for using too many tires throughout the event, but that didn’t affect his WRC2 title hopes as he wasn’t registered for points that weekend.

However, this time around, Solberg has nominated Kenya as one of his seven WRC2 points-scoring events. So, why the change?

“I’m trying to play a bit more of a strategic game compared to last year [to win the WRC2 championship], choosing more events where there is a bigger possibility to score good points. OK, there’s a lot of [WRC2] cars coming to Africa now, but I have a lot of experience from there now and it’s a nice rally and we were very fast there last year.

“Obviously we got a time penalty, but at least we have good experience there, so I feel good about it. I love the rally, so I thought why not try to score some good points and skip some rallies that we were a bit more unlucky on last year, choosing a bit more cleverly which events to do this year.

“So that’s why I took Africa [as a point-scoring round].”