Hyundai Motorsport team principal Andrea Adamo has told DirtFish that Oliver Solberg’s promotion to a WRC-spec i20 on the upcoming Arctic Rally Finland will help “wake up things” off the back of a disappointing Monte Carlo Rally for the manufacturer.
Solberg joined Hyundai on a two-season deal at the start of 2021, with a primary focus of competing for WRC2 honors in the current i20 R5 and then, once it’s homologated later in the year, the new i20 N Rally2.
But the 19-year-old has been handed the keys to one of 2C Competition’s Hyundai i20 Coupe WRCs for the second round of the 2021 season – an event that will be just his ninth start in the world championship.
Both Solberg himself and Adamo have limited expectations for his World Rally Car debut later this month, with Adamo previously telling DirtFish “we cannot squeeze him like an orange”.
“He has to enjoy what he’s doing,” Adamo explained.
“It’s clear that someone at this level is focusing to win the title one day. But you cannot pretend to make steps longer than your legs, if we squeeze him, we will find his passion drying too soon and this we can’t have.”
Hyundai isn’t heading to the rally in Rovaniemi in the strongest form however, with 2019 World Rally Champion Ott Tänak’s double puncture, subsequent retirement, and suspended ban on the Monte Carlo Rally a real lowpoint. It therefore already trails Toyota by 22 points in the manufacturers’ standings.
That’s why Adamo believes “you kick back double what you get”, and he sees Solberg’s presence in the WRC’s top tier as the perfect motivator to get the reigning champion team back on track.
“I think it’s another help to wake up things,” Adamo said to DirtFish of Solberg’s WRC promotion.
“Someone would say after Monte Carlo, it’s better you pack up, lick your wounds. I would say this is not the way to react.
“You have to react; you kick back double what you get.
“I want to react, to show everybody the kind of people that we’re not that shocked if something is bad, is not going the way it should be, but we’re the kind of people who try to understand what has happened, why, find the reason, solve the reasons and bounce back even stronger.”
Tänak, Thierry Neuville and Craig Breen will drive the three works i20s on the WRC’s first of two trips to Finland this season.