Solberg “more happy in my life” than in 2022

He might be competing in Rally2 instead of Rally1, but Oliver Solberg's in a far better place this year

Oliver Solberg and Elliott Edmondson

Oliver Solberg says he is “more happy” in his life this year after making a winning start to his WRC2 campaign on last weekend’s Rally Sweden.

The last 12 months have been something of a rollercoaster of emotions for Solberg, who dropped back down to the World Rally Championship’s second tier after parting ways with Hyundai at the end of last season.

But Solberg, who teamed up with Toksport in a new Škoda Fabia RS Rally2, has enjoyed a perfect start to his 2023 season, setting fastest time on over half the stages of the opening round in Monte Carlo before backing that up with a points-scoring success at home in Sweden.

Oliver Solberg

Speaking to DirtFish post-event, Solberg said: “It’s been amazing. To see so many people on the stages, see all the flags and the videos I’ve been sent, and the passion of people and the support – I mean I’ve never seen anything like it.

“And to win in front of the whole fans, and to win at home, it’s a relief. An amazing thing.”

The sense of relief for Solberg cannot be understated. After all, the former Rally1 driver endured a frustrating campaign last year, not helped by the star performances of then team-mates Thierry Neuville and Ott Tänak, while also having to share the third i20 N with the experienced Dani Sordo.

Combined with his relative lack of experience, Solberg was unable to find any degree of consistency during a turbulent time for Hyundai.

But with that chapter of his career firmly behind him, Solberg has admitted he’s in a much better place now even if he is competing in Rally2 instead of Rally1.

“I’m just more happy in my life, and I have a great feeling,” he said. Everything is working as it should. And it’s just an amazing feeling.

“[It’s] Amazing. Just a relief, a relief in the body. It’s been a long time ago, I won a lot of different things, but not a rally in a long time. And to have this feeling and consistency and happiness, I’m very, very happy.”

Indeed, the nature of Solberg’s victory in Sweden perhaps demonstrated just how much of a corner he has turned this year. After hitting the front on stage three, Solberg reeled off eight stage wins, gradually increasing his lead over Ole Christian Veiby to over 40 seconds by the finish.

Oliver Solberg

And while drivers never suddenly forget how to win rallies, patience according to Solberg has been the key to halting the time between drinks.

“I’ve always had a feeling [about] how to win,” he added. “And always had the feeling I had good speed, but as I said everything around me needs to be good.

“You need good people around you to build you up, and everyone working in the same direction.

“That’s why I’m very relieved in my life, very happy in my life, and then it works well.

“It’s where we should be. It’s been tougher for a while. but we are in a very happy place, and this year has been great so far.”

Words:Stephen Brunsdon