How Solberg can reverse 2022 WRC struggles

Oliver Solberg is not the first driver to endure a tricky season, but there is light at the end of the tunnel


Ott Tänak knows the feeling well. But the Rally Finland winner feels a comparison is unfair with his own professional low point of a decade ago.

Asking him to compare and contrast Oliver Solberg’s 2022 with his own tough time, brings a smile from the Hyundai driver.

“I was with Malcolm [Wilson, M-Sport managing director]! “And if I did something like this everybody could hear it in the service park! These were different times.”

Oliver Solberg’s World Rally Championship season hit a new low last Friday when he crashed out on the first meaningful corner of Rally Finland.

2022FINLAND_FD_ 175

From having to pull out of the Monte Carlo Rally due to poisonous exhaust fumes infiltrating his Hyundai’s cockpit, spinning on Rally Croatia which caused his car to go up in flames or the various mechanical dramas that afflicted his Safari, 2022 has been a rollercoaster for Solberg.

And invariably it’s been a nightmare. But he’s far from the only driver to hit a sticky patch in their career.

Before he became champion of the world, Solberg’s team-mate Tänak had his own troubled spell when he was dropped by the M-Sport team not once, but twice, following a few too many crashes for Malcolm Wilson’s liking.

But upon his second return in 2017 it all came good. Tänak won his first rally, helped M-Sport secure the manufacturers’ championship and moved to Toyota where he won the 2019 title.

Tänak has sympathy for Solberg – not just because he’s been through a similar experience himself, but because he knows the unstable situation at Hyundai is far from the ideal environment to learn in.

“I mean for sure, I’m sorry for Ollie, but as we know, the situation in the team is not the easiest and especially for a junior driver like he is, just coming into the sport and on this level and environment, even for us it is difficult, the car was very late and all these things,” Tänak said.

“So I would say all these things that have been happening, [the crash] was probably not the smartest thing to do, but altogether I would say Oliver shouldn’t be too worried.

“It’s not all his fault, so he just needs to focus on himself.”

Pierre-Louis Loubet can relate to Solberg too. He also had some struggles in a Hyundai, losing any sort of form in a 2C Compétition example last season to the point where he was “starting to think I would go back to work at my mother’s restaurant or something like that” instead of competing in the WRC.

But switching over to M-Sport this year, Loubet – the 2019 WRC2 champion – has begun to find his feet again.

“I would just say stay calm because here it’s long,” Loubet advised.

“If you have people supporting you, stay calm and if you lose the confidence, take small step by small step to make it come back.

“But it’s really hard when it’s this moment like that because you start to think maybe the level, the talent, it’s really tough. But he has good people around him and he’s a good guy. And I’m sure he will continue to push.

“We saw that he is a good driver when he won the World [Euro] RX race. The thing we forget is that we are in WRC level, it’s so high.

Oliver Solberg

“Honestly, sometimes we are a bit hard I think with the people who struggle. But the career is long. When you see Tänak’s level now after 15 years ago, I think no-one can tell the level they are today.”

Solberg’s good friend Adrien Fourmaux is perhaps the best placed to comment, given his major dip in form also happened this year. Only in recent rallies has Fourmaux began to resurrect his results.

So what’s Fourmaux’s advice?

“Just to never give up, I’m sure he knows that.

“Just to continue and keep confidence in himself, and yeah maybe he needs to find something with the mental or the physio I don’t know, it depends to him.


“But yeah, I was asking a lot of questions to myself.”

Solberg is back in a car this week as Hyundai conducts its pre-event testing for Ypres, and he will remain there for the rest of the season.

“We have a plan with him and we will stick to that plan, yes,” Hyundai deputy team director Julien Moncet confirmed to DirtFish.

“I think now he has to really focus on Belgium and he will be back stronger in Ypres. He has shown some good performance on other rallies there, so I hope it will be a better race.”