Oliver Solberg has retired from Safari Rally Kenya with chassis damage sustained by a 19G impact going through a compression and into a bank on Friday’s opening stage.
Solberg was drafted into the 2C Competition team to replace an out of form Pierre-Louis Loubet in Kenya, starting his second World Rally Championship rally in a World Rally Car following an impressive debut on Arctic Rally Finland.
But Solberg’s Safari has been a trying affair thus far. An issue on shakedown where he clipped something in a bush and damaged the front-right corner of his Hyundai has proved to be a precursor for his weekend.
Eighth fastest on Thursday’s superspecial, Solberg ran into trouble on Friday’s first stage – Chui Lodge – as he damaged his car.
“It was a dip there so it hit the car and I hit the bank,” he explained. “It was a very difficult stage, so loose, more difficult than expected.”
Solberg’s car was then reported to have crabbed away from the stop-line, and he and Aaron Johnston made some emergency repairs on the road section between stages.
The pair arrived to the start of Kedong 30 minutes late (any later and they’d have been over the limit) but didn’t complete the stage at rally speed as it was red-flagged for an accident.
Solberg then started SS4 but has been forced to retire his i20 Coupe WRC with the damage too sufficient to continue.
“Today we learned that it’s not just the lions that bite at Safari Rally Kenya, it’s the stages too,” he said in a social media statement.
“Sadly we couldn’t completely fix the issue from SS2 before SS3 or SS4 as we were right on the limit in terms of maximum time allowed.
“We stopped again during SS4 to try and fix it, but the chassis is too damaged and we can do no more so we have to retire from the rally.”
Solberg is the fourth World Rally Car retirement already as both Elfyn Evans and Dani Sordo exited the contest on SS3, while Lorenzo Bertelli failed to take the start of SS4 due to a water leak.
It is not yet known if Solberg will be able to restart on Saturday or Sunday.