Solberg is expected to be among the WRC2 title favourites after inking a deal with Skoda Motorsport direct after finishing sixth in the championship last year, driving the Fabia RS Rally2 car for the Toksport squad last year.
The son of 2003 world rally champion Petter Solberg was thought to be among the options under consideration by M-Sport as the British squad looked to re-shape its driver line-up. In the end M-Sport promoted Adrien Fourmaux and Gregoire Munster from its own Rally2 squad.
Solberg admitted making a decision on his 2024 plans was difficult but the opportunity to sign with a manufacturer direct was too good to turn down.
“The dream was to do Rally1, of course, but after what happened last time [with Hyundai], I wanted to make sure that is was proper and its quality and I know that I can do well,” Solberg told Motorsport.com.
“But I felt that Skoda came in with such a good offer and belief in us that we can do well so. I felt that I am still so young so I don’t want to rush anything that is halfway, so I wanted to do Rally2 with the Skoda team and do a lot of rounds.
“It was a very hard decision but in the end what Skoda came to us with is the absolute best option.
Photo by: McKlein / Motorsport Images
Oliver Solberg, Skoda Fabia Evo Rally2
“Obviously, the Toyota [GR Yaris Rally2] is very attractive now but I wanted to build on something I have already built. The Toyota is new, we don’t know if it will be fast and we don’t know about the reliability. I wanted to stick with what I have and I got a fantastic offer that I couldn’t say no to. It is a dream scenario with Skoda.”
While Solberg is competing in Monte Carlo this weekend, he hasn’t registered for WRC2 and therefore will begin his points-scoring campaign on home soil in Sweden next month.
Reflecting on the season ahead, the 22-year-old has his sights firmly fixed on the title and believes the championship will be just as competitive despite last year’s champion Andreas Mikkelsen moving to Rally1 with Hyundai this year.
“The goal was to win the title last year so we will just try to do the same, but we just need to hope for a bit of luck, and it should be okay,” said Solberg.
“I think many misunderstood my approach last year. I wasn’t just going to win every stage, the goal was to drive as good as possible. To win in WRC you need to drive as good as possible and all of the time. In Rally2 you don’t have to drive flat out all of the time.
“I want to learn for the future and to win rallies. I think I showed consistency and speed last year but there was a mistake in Estonia, so I think I need to take not as much risk but not change what I have built.
“There are still a lot of drivers here with experience. Andreas Mikkelsen is a super consistent driver and maybe it helps me a little bit in that sense. I think speed-wise it will be the same level as before.”
Solberg has this week become one of four ‘Quadrant Athletes’, a new programme devised by the gaming, apparel and entertainment company founded by McLaren Formula 1 driver Lando Norris. The initiative aims to connect with new audiences through bespoke story telling digital content.