Oliver Solberg, son of rally legend Petter, to make WRC debut at Arctic Rally Finland

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19-year-old Oliver Solberg will take on his first WRC round driving a Hyundai 120 Coupe prepared by the 2C Competition team

23 Oliver SOLBERG (SWE), Aaron JOHNSTON (IRL), HYUNDAI MOTORSPORT N HYUNDAI i20, RC2 Rally2, action during the 2021 WRC World Rally Car Championship, Monte Carlo rally on January 20 to 24, 2021 at Monaco - Photo Grégory Lenormand / DPPI

Oliver Solberg will make his WRC debut at Artic Rally Finland after impressing in junior catergories

Grégory Lenormand / DPPI

Oliver Solberg, son of WRC legend and 2001 Drivers’ Champion Petter Solberg, will make his top class debut with Hyundai for the upcoming Arctic Rally Finland.

Almost twenty years since his father claimed the drivers’ title, the younger Solberg will take on the 156 miles of remote, snowy Finnish roads in what will be a baptism of ice for the young Norwegian.

Described by Hyundai team principal Andrea Adamo as being part of the 19-year-old’s “on-going learning curve”, Solberg’s i20 WRC car will be prepared by the French team 2C Competition.

“We are keen to see his performance level, of course, but there is no pressure on his shoulders in his debut WRC event,” said Adamo. “He has to enjoy the rally and take all the experience possible.

“It will be his first time at the top level of world rallying but it is more of a test than anything else; he has to acclimatise and get acquainted with the high-speed nature of the car in these wintry conditions.”

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Arctic Rally competitors will have to set off with survival kits, a pair of snow shovels and, at one point, traverse a deep-frozen swamp, with the average temperature predicted to be between -6c and -14c.

Adamo has kept expectations in check for the young Finn: “We hope to see him at the arrival, the end of the Power Stage, with lots of enjoyment and happiness – that’s the main target,” he said.

Solberg, who will be co-driven by Irishman Aaron Johnston, competed in Rally2 in 2019 and 2020, winning the Rally Liepaja round of the European Rally Championship in both years.

The Swedish-Norwegian is looking in good shape for the second round of the WRC season, having finished third on the Arctic Lapland Rally, which features roads similar to the Arctic Finland Rally.

“The first thing is for me to say a very big thank you to Hyundai Motorsport for giving me this opportunity to gain experience and for putting their trust in me to drive this rally in the i20 Coupe WRC,” he said. “I’m counting down the minutes until I get to sit in this fantastic car for the first time,” Solberg commented.

“This really is a dream to be making my debut in a World Rally car with the reigning manufacturers’ champions. I have driven quite a lot on the snow, and I know this type of condition quite well, but the car is completely new for me.

“Probably one of the bigger challenges I will face is understanding and using all of the aero grip which is coming from the car.

“The only target for me in Lapland is to learn and take the experience. I want to come out of every stage understanding the i20 Coupe WRC more than when I started it.”