In terms of entry list surprises, this one’s right up there: Petter Solberg, co-driven by Andreas Mikkelsen in a Citroën C3 WRC on Rally Italy.
It’s there. In black and white. In a car that’s black and yellow.
But that doesn’t tell the whole story. While the entry for the World Rally Championship round in Sardinia is in and they are listed as driver and co-driver in car #21, they won’t tackle the whole event – they’ll bookend the job, with Mikkelsen driving at shakedown and Solberg on the powerstage.
Next week’s Alghero-based event will be 2003 world champion Solberg’s first outing in a World Rally Car since Spain 2012, when he departed the M-Sport Ford team.
Solberg told DirtFish: “This is going to be a lot of fun. It’s a really nice story for me to be working with Andreas, this is the kind of thing we need to be doing – finding another angle and another story.”
Solberg does, of course, have fond memories of Sardinia – he won the island’s maiden WRC round in 2004.
“Don’t start with that,” Solberg said. “I told you, this is for fun.
“Me and Andreas, we will have a good time in the car and we will make a show for the people watching. And we can show the tire for the first time.
“But, just for me, do you know what is the record for this stage? Maybe I will take one look at the onboards…”
Mikkelsen will be the man guiding Solberg through Sunday afternoon’s 4.28-mile powerstage from Sassari to Argentiera.
“Did Petter say we were going to have some fun?” asked Mikkelsen. “That’s good. Seriously, it is just for fun.
“I’m not sure we will even do the recce for the stage, so I don’t know that I will have anything to read to him.
“Actually, you’re right… when did Petter do anything like this for fun!
“I’m sure he’ll want to be on the pace and be fast – but also he has calmed down a little bit and it would be difficult for him to jump straight into a car he doesn’t know and go so fast.
“The thing we have to focus on is the tires. We have to show how cool the tires are and say some nice words about Pirelli.”
Pirelli’s rally activity manager Terenzio Testoni said: “Obviously this isn’t a serious competition debut: we just wanted to take the chance to show the new tire at our home event to media and fans.
“It’s great to see Petter back with us for the powerstage – but maybe less fun for Andreas in the co-driver’s seat!”
Pirelli will launch its Scorpion KX WRC tire in Sardinia, while also promoting its return to the world championship as the series’ sole tire supplier for the next four years.