Two weeks ago Oliver Solberg announced that he would be joining Subaru Motorsports USA for this year’s American Rally Association series. Overtake Motorsport got to interview the young Norwegian driver ahead of his debut in the 100 Acre Wood Rally this month.
Solberg has been rallying since 2017 having debuted in Latvia but this will be the first time the 17-year-old has competed in America.
Subaru Motorsports USA won 13 out of the last 14 American Rally titles with current driver, David Higgins, winning six of these.
When asked about his targets for the upcoming season, Solberg said, “I don’t know so much about rallying in America, but what I do know is that the stages are really different from one rally to the next, which is great news for me. I want to take as much experience behind the wheel of the WRX STI as I can.”
“This (100-Acre Wood) will be my first time driving a four-wheel drive car on gravel as well, so I can’t wait to get in the WRX STI for that as well!”
Solberg isn’t following a conventional route through the rallying ladder, with most drivers heading to European rounds or to Junior WRC and WRC2, however, he feels this opportunity will enable him to gain experience out of the spotlight.
“It’s a chance to come and compete somewhere without the big spotlight we might be getting if we were competing all the time in Europe. I want to come and drive kind of quietly, just to get to know the events and the car.” said Solberg.
Although the 17-year-old is yet to compete in a four wheel drive, Subaru Motorsports USA have given him the opportunity to test an older
car and the Norwegian is excited to make the step up.
“The guys at Subaru Motorsports USA have been fantastic. From the first meeting we had in, I think October last year, they have been really enthusiastic about this programme. Maybe one month after the meeting, I got the chance to test a slightly older Subaru which was being used for some tyre testing. I sent an email and said, “Just tell me where… I’ll be there!” I was so excited and everything came from there.”
Solberg and Subaru is a relationship known to many fans of WRC with Oliver’s father, Petter, having won the World Rally Championship with the Japanese giants in 2003. As such, the link between the Solberg name and Subaru brings with it a lot of nostalgia and Solberg Jr is just as emotional.
“It’s still kind of crazy to think that I’m going to be driving for Subaru. I don’t think the whole emotion of the thing will really hit me until I walk out and get into the car with my name on the side for the first time, then it’s going to be incredible.” he said.
“It’s always been an absolute dream of mine to drive for Subaru and now it’s happening. Like I said, it’s a bit crazy – but very, very good crazy!”
Solberg will contest his first round at the 100 Acre Wood Rally on the 15th March 2019.