Solberg to make World Rally Car debut on Arctic

Oliver Solberg will drive a 2C Competition-run World Rally Car with factory assistance in the second WRC round of 2021

Oliver Solberg

Oliver Solberg will make his debut in a factory-built World Rally Car aged just 19 when he steps up to a Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC for Arctic Rally Finland.

Just four years and one month since he entered a rally for the first time at the age of 15, Solberg will be competing at its highest level in round two of the 2021 World Rally Championship in a 2C Competition-run car with support from Hyundai factory engineers.

“The first thing is for me to say is a very big thank you to Andrea [Adamo, Hyundai Motorsport team principal], Alain [Penasse, Hyundai Motorsport team manager] and everybody for giving me this opportunity and for putting their trust in me to drive this rally in the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC,” said Solberg.

“This really is a dream for me. To think I have only been competing for four years and now I’m here; it’s just a dream to be making my debut in a World Rally Car from the World Rally Champions!”

Solberg will get his first miles in the i20 Coupe WRC this Sunday in a test in Rovaniemi, the area where the rally is located.


Oliver’s been dreaming a lot since he first stepped aboard a Peugeot 208 R2 on the 2017 Rally Alūksne in Latvia for his rallying debut.

It was a dream to get the chance to drive a 600bhp DS3 Supercar in RallyX Nordic. He won that championship.

It was an American dream to land a drive with Subaru Motorsports USA in 2019. He won the DirtFish Olympus Rally, just his second outing in the WRX STI.

Another realized dream was becoming the youngest ever winner of a European Rally Championship round in Latvia later that season. And his pace to dominate Rally2 at Rally Estonia last year was another…

“Ah, but this is the real dream,” Solberg told DirtFish, seeing where we were going. “Come on, this is incredible. To be driving this car: the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC. It’s fantastic.”

Probably one of the bigger challenges I will face is understanding and using all of the aero grip which is coming from the car Oliver Solberg

While Solberg is no stranger to snow, the Arctic Rally Finland will be just his second trip to the Rovaniemi stages – his first coming at last month’s Finnish Rally Championship opener.

“Obviously, I did Arctic [Lapland Rally] last month with the Hyundai i20 R5, so that gave me an idea of what’s coming later this month,” said Solberg.

“That is one of the good things about driving the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC in Lapland – the snow and ice conditions should be consistent, which is a nice way to learn about a new car. The consistency will help me to understand the grip and how any changes we make to the car will affect it.

“And we go there with just one tire, Pirelli’s Sottozero Ice, which is also nice and certainly less complicated than on the first round of the WRC, Monte Carlo Rally, where we had four tires to choose from and so many conditions it was sometimes quite crazy!

“If I had to choose a rally to take a debut in the i20 Coupe WRC, it would be my home event at Rally Sweden, of course! But I have to be honest and say the snow in Finland is pretty good as well.”

While he might have some clue to the conditions, the car is a different matter. Granted, he’s done zero to 60 in next to no time courtesy of the 600bhp rallycross car, but that was nothing like the refinement, grip and potential that comes with the top-class Hyundai.


“The Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC is completely new for me,” he said. “There’s going to be a lot for me to take on and understand. For a start, the i20 Coupe WRC has one more gear than I’m used to: it’s six instead of five. And, of course, there’s a paddle shift and a lot of data to learn from the center differential.

“Probably one of the bigger challenges I will face is understanding and using all of the aero grip which is coming from the car. This is one area where I haven’t done so much in the past – but Finland is a good place to come to understand how much downforce a World Rally Car like this one can generate; the roads around Rovaniemi are really fast.”

As his win in Latvia and Rally2 success in Estonia showed, Solberg likes the fast roads.

Again, he’s seen us coming…

“The only target for me in Lapland is to learn and take the experience,” he said.

“I want to come out of every stage understanding the i20 Coupe WRC more than when I started it. At the same time, I do want to see progression with the times, that’s also important for me.

“It’s a real privilege to drive the i20 Coupe WRC. I was so impressed with the i20 R5 when I was in Finland and on the Monte last month – any time I can get in a Hyundai and drive it, I’m definitely going to be happy for that.

“My focus for 2021 is for WRC2 and I’m looking forward to starting that program later this year, but right now it’s very, very good for me to be building my understanding and experience of Hyundai’s fantastic rally cars.”




Hyundai Motorsport team principal Andrea Adamo said the only pressure on Solberg and co-driver Aaron Johnston was to enjoy themselves.

“We are keen to see his performance level, of course, but there is no pressure on his shoulders in his debut WRC event,” said Adamo.

“He has to enjoy the rally and take all the experience possible. It will be his first time at the top level of world rallying but it is more of a test than anything else; he has to acclimatize and get acquainted with the high-speed nature of the car in these wintry conditions.

“We hope to see him at the arrival, the end of the powerstage, with lots of enjoyment and happiness – that’s the main target.”