Why Solberg had to withdraw from Rally Italy Sardinia

He’d already traveled to Sardinia unwell and hoping to push through but to no avail

Oliver Solberg

Motorsport is a world of bravado. The thought of voluntarily choosing to step out of the cockpit of a rally car, no matter how off-color you might feel, is widely considered a complete non-starter by the drivers themselves.

Colin McRae’s example was the most famous; he drove the entirety of Rally Spain 2002 one-handed, having severely injured his right pinkie finger on Rally Corsica mere days earlier. He even suggested amputating it if it meant he could get back in the car two weeks later.

But there comes a point where enduring just doesn’t make sense any longer. You can be too sick to soldier on. Motorsport sometimes forgets that discretion is the better part of valor. But Oliver Solberg did not.

He turned up to Rally Italia Sardinia already ill. With the Toksport team already there with his Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 ready to go, there was no way he wouldn’t press ahead. He did the recce. And then he realized pressing on made no sense and withdrew on the eve of the rally.

The reasons why are now much clearer.

“Before going down to Sardinia, I had a virus or an infection inside my body, which was very difficult and very painful,” said Solberg in a social media post. “Coming down to Sardinia, I wanted to check it, so went to the doctors, straight away got some really strong medication to try to fix it, get better and heal.”

Solberg did as little as he could get away with to try and save energy for the rally itself. Co-driver Elliott Edmondson drove all of the road sections during recce so that Solberg could sleep whenever the pair weren’t on stage making notes.

But as the week wore on, his condition deteriorated.

“During the rally week, it got worse and worse and more painful,” added Solberg, “So for the race, we decided with the team to just retire, unfortunately, and not start the rally and focus mainly on the health.”


In Solberg's absence, Yohan Rossel extended his WRC2 points advantage

That itch that told Solberg that you don’t step out of the cockpit by choice was still there. But he, wisely, chose to ignore it.

“It was a big decision for me because it’s something I normally would never, ever do. It was a bad situation. But now we have to look into the future, focus and get healthy, and then focus on the next ERC rally, which is at home in a couple of weeks.

“So let’s push on together. And again, thank you. Thank you very much for all the support.”

Solberg is scheduled to compete in Royal Rally of Scandinavia on 13-15 June, with his world champion father Petter also entered in the same event with a family-owned Volkswagen Polo GTI R5.