How a rally star is born
ŠKODA Motorsport not only provides support to customer teams but is also dedicated to developing talent, with 19-year-old Oliver Solberg taking the lead
orking with talented young drivers has always been important for the MB racing team. This year, however, when sporting ambitions in the overall rankings of the World Cham-pionship have given way to other priorities, it is more important than ever. The proof is the cooperation with Sweden’s Oliver Solberg, who has already shown great talent and gained quite a lot of experience despite his young age. It is in his DNA: His father, Petter, was the World Rally champion in 2003, and his mother, Pernilla Walfridsson, used to be a successful racer, too. At the age of 18, Oliver became the youngest winner of a Europe-an Championship event, Rally Liepaja in Latvia.
“This cooperation is mainly based on the private team’s technical support. So, Oliver isn’t a factory driver like Kalle Rovanperä was. He participates in selected competitions of the WRC3 in a FABIA Rally2 evo that is serviced by ŠKODA Motorsport mechanics and tech-nicians. As part of this cooperation, he took part in two events this year: Rally Sweden and Rally Italia Sardegna. In both, he competed for points in the category intended for private drivers”, describes David Jareš, ŠKODA Motorsport’s commercial programme coor-dinator.
Not everything takes place on a race track, however, as cooperation plays an important role backstage, too. Solberg participates in factory team tests. Their goals tend to be dif-ferent: testing individual components and their service life or simulating the technical knowledge of customer teams, which is of great importance to the team. “Oliver has a lot of experience for his age and can already put enough strain on the car during testing so we can get all the data we need”, says Pavel Hortek, Team ŠKODA Motorsport manager, in praise of Solberg. Each kilometre clocked is also extremely useful for the young driver in terms of his competitive career. Štěpán Vorlíček
It’s primarily about the experience that you constantly gain, whether you write the schedule or participate in new rallies or when you’re doing the testing.
Achievements of ŠKODA cars
On a challenging track full of sharp stones and facing hot weather, the ŠKODA cars, which have a reputation of being fit for extreme conditions, coped perfectly. The WRC2 category was dominated by Sweden’s Pontus Tidemand, while Kajetan Kajetanowicz reigned supreme in the WRC3. A total of six crews set off with the Czech specials, mak-ing ŠKODA the most represented brand in the Rally2 group.
Invelt Rally Pačejov
The race in southwestern Bohemia had its premiere in the domestic championship this year. Besides the factory team, it also attracted two dealer teams and a number of cus-tomer teams not only from the Czech Republic but also from Germany, Austria and Slo-vakia. Challenging tracks in rainy weather offered another exciting struggle for the podi-um, where the ŠKODA Motorsport crew of Jan Kopecký and Jan Hloušek celebrated vic-tory. They are only seven points behind the first crew, Václav Pech / Petr Uhel. The over-all winner was to be decided by the Rally Klatovy at the beginning of November, but the organizers did not obtain an exemption from anti-epidemiological measures and canceled the event at the last minute. The decision to award the championship title will thus be made at the green table.
Rally Italia Sardegna
Because of the pandemic, the rally took place at a later date in October. Even then, it served up sunny weather on its difficult gravel tracks. Tidemand took advantage of this in the WRC2, where he and his FABIA Rally2 evo managed to win. Oliver Solberg then fought for first place in the WRC3 category; however, after the unfortunate end of the second day, he finished sixth. Yet, Kajetanowicz with the Czech car took second place in the class, missing a win by mere seconds. Also in Sardinia, ŠKODA was the most fre-quently represented brand in the Rally2 group, with 15 crews setting off to start with the brand’s cars.