Oliver Solberg will drive a Hyundai i20 R5 competitively for the first time at next week’s Arctic Lapland Rally in Finland.
The teenager, who signed for Hyundai Motorsport at the end of last year, tested the i20 R5 in Sweden earlier this week.
Solberg told DirtFish: “The car felt good. I’m happy. I have to take some time to discover the i20 completely, but we will be able to do that some more during the rally next week. But in the first test, it felt nice with a strong engine.”
Solberg will face tough competition on his debut aboard an i20, with fellow Hyundai Motorsport driver Ole Christian Veiby and leading Škoda Fabia-wielding Finns Emil Lindholm and Juha Salo all likely to feature at the sharp end of next week’s Friday-Saturday Rovaniemi-based event.
“I know there will be a lot of fast drivers there,” said Solberg, “and I know experience is counting for a lot when you are driving in Finland. For me, this is the first time I compete in the Hyundai i20 R5 and the first time I drive on this rally, so I will just focus most on what I am doing.
“I need to take the experience and to get to understand the car more. When you are testing, all the time you are on the same piece of road. Next week, the rally is different.”
That first test, close to the family home in Torsby, was run in perfect winter conditions.
“The conditions on the road were so nice. The roads were full snow with big snowbanks, some of the best conditions I ever had to drive with. When you have good, consistent conditions, it helps to make an interesting first impression with a new car.”
A typically impatient 19-year-old, Solberg added that the Christmas break had, if anything, gone on too long.
He said: “I know I am saying this about all the rallies I’m doing, but I can’t wait for this one. Christmas has been nice, a good time to relax, but I’m not so good for relaxing inside. I need to be outside and outside in a rally car!”
He’s also looking forward to a delayed Finnish debut, saying: “The plan was to go to Neste Rally [Finland] last year, but we all know that didn’t happen, so my first time is in Arctic Lapland Rally – this is also a big adventure.
“I heard a lot of stories about this one, where we have really low temperatures and a proper, proper winter. I did some work looking at some of the onboards, studying some of the video from previous years and the roads look fast.”
Solberg’s Hyundai i20 R5 will be run by the family team in Finland.