Three years ago, Oliver Solberg stunned the World Rally Championship scene with an outrageous turn of speed at Estonia’s WRC promotional event. Twelve months on, he did the same thing on Tartu’s maiden WRC appearance.
It’s no surprise then that it’s in Estonia this summer where his boss, Hyundai Motorsport deputy team director Julien Moncet wants to see what the 20-year-old has to offer in terms of speed.
Sharing a third Hyundai i20 N Rally1 with Dani Sordo this season, Solberg drops down to WRC2 for Rally Portugal in favor of the Spaniard – and likewise won’t be in the factory WRC lineup for Italy either.
The Swede’s start to the year has been a tough one, with technical issues in Monte Carlo and Sweden followed by a rally ending, fire-starting shunt in Croatia.
Moncet told DirtFish it remained too early to judge Solberg’s progress as a full factory driver and pointed to the summer for the first review.
“We want to keep Oliver away from the pressure,” he said. “We want to give him time to take experience and to learn. What happened in Croatia is part of that learning process. It’s unfortunate, but it’s part of the job.
“Maybe later in the season, more towards the middle of the year, we start to increase a bit our expectations for Oliver. On rallies like Estonia or Finland we will try to increase the pace and the rhythm.”
Estonia is definitely a favorite for Solberg. It’s where he cut his teeth as a junior and, wait for it, here’s a slightly insane statistic for you: This year’s Rally Estonia will be his fifth start on the event.
Not bad for a 20-year-old.