Oliver Solberg made a nice gesture for his cousin Oscar Solberg’s international career in the FIA ERC Junior Championship.
The Swede donated the € 100,000 won with the FIA ERC1 Junior in 2020 to his 25-year-old relative to race in the ERC Junior with a Pirelli-fitted Ford Fiesta Rally3 built by M-Sport Poland.
With Oliver Solberg’s ERC training mission completed, his move to the FIA World Rally Championship went so well that he is currently preparing for his second race in a Hyundai i20 Coupé WRC at this week’s Safari Rally Kenya.
And after taking the world rally championship by storm, young Solberg made the decision not to leverage his ERC award in 2021, but by donating it to Oscar Solberg, whose father Henning was successful at the top of the sport.
As support from ERC promoter Eurosport Events is awarded for an ERC1 season, Petter Solberg (Oliver’s dad) made a request to transfer the award to his grandson, which was approved by Eurosport Events and the governing body, the FIA.
“Oliver Solberg has followed a path taken by many talented young rally drivers, gaining vital ERC experience in world-class events against top-tier competition,” said Jean-Baptiste Ley, ERC coordinator. “His progression has been impressive, and we are delighted to see him making such a strong start to his World Rally Championship career with Hyundai Motorsport. While we would welcome Oliver back into ERC with open arms, it’s great that he was able to take another step in his career. Rather than letting the prize go to waste, we were eager to work on a solution with Oliver and his family; his gesture of passing the award to his cousin Oscar is to be applauded. He also ensures that the next Solberg chapter in ERC will be written by Oscar, clearly a great talent who will be watched in the new era of ERC Junior at the wheel of M-Sport Poland’s new Ford Fiesta Rally3 ”.
Oscar Solberg: “I couldn’t have done it without Oliver”
Oscar Solberg said he was “shocked” when confirmation arrived that he will compete in the FIA ERC Junior with a Pirelli-fitted Ford Fiesta Rally3 of M-Sport Poland. The 25-year-old had resigned himself to a season in his national championship in an old Volvo 242 when he received news that his return to the international rally would be possible.
“I’m a little shocked actually,” Solberg said. “I was focusing on the Norwegian championship in an old Volvo when I got the news and I don’t think I’ll believe it until I put my helmet on for the first stage of Rally Liepāja next week. It’s something big for me and without this gift from Oliver I wouldn’t be here, so I’m very grateful ”.
Solberg’s career to date has been full of promise, but short on funds, which saw him only do one race in the FIA Junior World Rally Championship in 2020.
“It all happens fast, I just need to find my pace and keep it. I hope I can show something good and something good will come out of that. Rally3 is a new class, it looks exciting, and even though I haven’t driven the car yet, I’ve known those in Group N since 2016, so I have some four-wheel drive experience and I know the Fiesta. “
Of the prospect of emulating his cousin’s ERC results, Oscar added: “He and I love rallies very much, he rode a little more than me when we were kids, he knows me in video games, and we ride quad bikes together. Do you think he thinks I’m good enough, in video games we are similar, I don’t think I’m the fastest, but we’ll see after the first stages in Latvia what I can do ”.
Solberg starts his ERC Junior season at Rally Liepāja, Latvia from 1st to 3rd July. The 2021 FIA ERC Junior champion will receive a guide in the FIA Junior WRC in 2022 as a prize.
Oliver Solberg: “ERC is a great place to start your career”
Oliver Solberg moved on to the FIA World Rally Championship in 2021 as the winner of the FIA ERC1 Junior by beating Grégoire Munster. He won the Rally Liepāja at the absolute level – a feat he also achieved in 2019 – and went to the podium at the Rally di Roma Capitale.
“ERC is a fantastic place to start your career, gain experience and learn – said the 19-year-old Swede – There are many great races, a lot from which you can learn a lot because they are all different. It’s a fantastic championship with very tough, world-class competition and the rivals are really hard to beat. The ERC also has a great TV and is very professional ”.
“I spent a great year in ERC. I did my first rally on asphalt and finished on the podium beating many of the best. Then after that, going back to Liepāja, where I won the year before, put a bit of pressure on me, but I managed to win again against some riders in the world championship, so it sure was very good. Each event is so different so it was a great opportunity for me to learn and we managed to win the ERC Junior title. You learn a lot and the drivers are at a high level, it’s a big step for the WRC. And my cousin is really fast, so be careful ”.
Jérôme Roussel, Category Manager – Regional Rally, FIA said: “We are delighted to authorize Oliver Solberg to transfer his award for winning the FIA ERC1 Junior Championship to his cousin, Oscar. Oliver is clearly ready to take the next step in his career, while the new Rally3-based FIA ERC Junior Championship in Oscar welcomes another driver with an internationally successful record who remains committed to reaching the top of the sport ”.
Maciej Woda, CEO of M-Sport Poland: “I’m really looking forward to working with Oscar, I remember working with his father Henning and I have very good memories, so it’s really special to welcome Oscar to M-Sport Poland for his ERC Junior season. This is an incredible story for rallying and I have to say my hats to Oliver for such a kind and generous gesture. It will be intense weeks for Oscar with the Rally Liepāja, a fast event on the dirt road just around the corner and then the asphalt of the Rally di Roma Capitale three weeks later. Jon Armstrong proved in Poland that the Fiesta Rally3 is an easy car to drive that requires no specialist experience to be on top, which should help Oscar find a good pace all year round. I would also like to thank ERC, Pirelli and Eurosport Events for having worked with Oliver and allowed Oscar to embark on this new chapter of his rally career ”.