With hindsight, Oliver Solberg might now be kicking himself for pulling a few donuts at the end of SS15 on Rally of Portugal. But despite missing out on the WRC2 victory by an agnozing 1.2 seconds, he’s still proud of his performance.
Up until Saturday’s final stage, Solberg was in complete control of the WRC2 class, holding a 34.8s lead over Gus Greensmith.
But after being hit with a one-minute penalty for doing donuts at the end of the Lousada superspecial, Solberg suddenly found himself lying in second, 24.6s behind his championship rival.
It would have been easy to let his head drop and accept that he’d let a nailed on victory fall through his grasp, but Solberg isn’t one to take a kicking lying down.
Instead, he pushed with all his might to close in on Greensmith, and with a little help from an intermittent power-steering issue on Greensmith’s car, he was able to take the battle right down to the wire.
Even though he missed out, Solberg explained that he was actually proud of the way he managed to fight back.
“To be honest it’s been a tough day. I went to bed at 1.30am last night as that’s when the decision came,” he told DirtFish.
“I had to wake up at 5am, so it wasn’t a long night and then the whole thing today with pushing and keeping concentration and keeping the motivation was not so easy.
“But yeah I’m really, really proud actually to be where I am, yes.”
Starting out on Sunday morning, Solberg always knew the task ahead was going to be tough, especially since his tires weren’t exactly in the best condition.
But despite the fading grip, he still managed to take a clean sweep of stage victories on the final day, proving just how hard he pushed.
“I tried!” Solberg said when Colin Clark suggested it was a mighty performance on Sunday morning’s stages.
“I knew I didn’t have the best tires going into the day, I only had four new the others had six so I knew it was going to be tough.
“First one this morning I used old tires, I still won the stage but yeah, I tried anyway and putting new tires on really helped.
“But in the end now, the powerstage, I pushed to the very, very, very limit and that took a lot of time but so close, so close.”
Reflecting on the narrow margin of defeat, Solberg admitted that, in some ways, he wished the final gap wasn’t that small.
“In one way I’d rather get… OK for the championship I would rather as it is now, but I would rather get five minutes penalty and then be done with it,” he said.
“But now it’s just more inconsistent so it’s even more tough now to accept it because you’re so close.”