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Motor Racing Legend: Petter Solberg

Posted in Motor Racing Legends by Wheels Near U Team on the November 9th, 2007

Petter SolbergLast week we looked at Michael Schumacher the formula one champion who’s long running F1 career has brought him recognition across the world, before that we have written about Stirling Moss, the mid century racer with an outstanding driving ability and Jimmy Clark the Scottish born world class racer as well as several other Motor Racing Legends. For this weeks Motor Racing Legend we move to the rally scene, taking a look at World Rally Championship Winning Petter Solberg.

Much like the other racing legends we have looked at in this series Solberg showed promising signs of his future prospects from a young age, participating in Remote Control Car Championships as a child and teen, winning a nationwide RC Car Championship at the young age of 13. Solbergs’ parents (mother Tove and father Terje) likely inspired his interest in motorsport and car racing, competing in Bilcross (a lower cost version of Norwegian Rallycross) and being general rally enthusiasts and Rallycross fans.

Petter SolbergThe family lived on a farm, where Petter used to help rebuild the competition cars, too young to drive this was as close as he could get to the rally cars, for now. Following in his parents footsteps Petter Solberg entered his first bilcross in 1992, the day after receiving his driving license (and 3 days after his 18th birthday.) Only three years later in 1995 Solberg won the Norwegian championship in both Rallycross and Hillclimb, winning a staggering 19 out of 21 events. Solberg then won both again the following year with an impressive 15 out of 19 events won. 1998 saw Petter Solberg become the Norwegian Rally Champion and for 5 consecutive years after his win his older brother (Henning) claimed the title!

With such unanimous wins Petter Solberg began to be noticed by the World Rally Championship team bosses, who realised his potential and proceeded to offer him test drives. In the end of 1998 Solberg won a comparative test drive that sealed an agreement that he would drive for three years as a junior pilot for the Ford Motor Company. When he started this role he was not expected to break any records or do any high profile rallying but Solberg managed to become a nominated points scorer for ford. This was partly due to the gruelling Safari Rally in 1999 in which after Thomas Radstrom sustained an injury that would take him out of the race, Petter Solberg replaced him as Colin McRae’s understudy.

Petter Solberg

2000 saw Solberg leave the Ford Motor Company team early, signing up with the Prodrive Subaru World Rally Team. At the time SWRT (Subaru World Rally Team) was led by drivers such as Richard Burns and Juha Kankkunen and Solberg’s first podium finish was delayed until the following year where he took the podium in the Acropolis Rally, Greece.

In 2002 Robert Burns left Subaru for Peugeot, opening the door for four-time champion Tommi Mäkinen to join and become Petter’s new team mate. Petter Solberg took his first ever World Rally Championship win in Wales (the Wales Rally GB) where he consistently drove well. Solberg won the event at Wales Rally GB again in 2003, providing him with his first World Championship Title.

The 2005 rally season was not lucky for Petter Solberg who was able to score 71 points in the year, severely hampered by Sébastien Loeb who won in his Citroen. He did win the Wales Rally GB, but this was marred after the death of Michael Park (Markko Martin’s navigator) who died in a crash on day three. Winning three rallies that year Solberg was considered to be affected by bad luck, most notably when he was forced to retire after hitting a kangaroo in the Telstra Rally Australia.

WRC 2005 - Petter Solberg

In 2006 Solberg continued to race for the Subaru Team behind the wheel of a new improved version of the WRC Impreza. He gained a main sponsor in 24SevenOffice with a large 5 million kroner (£450,000) sponsorship deal. Unfortunately Solberg did not manage any wins, only achieving a handful of runner-up places in Mexico, Australia and Argentina.

Petter Solberg has however got his 2007 season off to a better start where he managed a joint career best finish of 6th place in the Rally Monte Carlo. Since then he managed a third place finish in Sweden but had problems in Mexico, Argentina and Sardinia as he struggled with his Impreza. Retirements caused by technical problems saw Petter suffer a huge drop down the leader board.

WRC 2005 - Petter Solberg

Turning that around Petter managed a third place in the Acropolis Rally, which gives hope to his turnaround in the 2007 series.

Solberg is currently in 5th Position with 38 points between Sordo (4th) and his older brother in 6th place.

Petter Solberg is this weeks Motor Racing Legend, his team work and skill at Wales Rally GB mark him as a Motor Racing Legend. To see more photo’s and read more on Petter Solberg and his Prodrive Subaru Impreza WRC Car visit our Motor Racing Legends Gallery Or if you want to read more about other Motor Racing Legends here.

2 Responses to 'Motor Racing Legend: Petter Solberg'

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  1. on November 15th, 2007 at 9:48 am

    nice champion!Petter Solberg! and now you have a nice team mate a four-time champion Tommi Mäkinen…. it’s not impossible to be a back to back champion…Nice Article on a great Racing Driver!


  2. on November 26th, 2007 at 11:23 am

    […] London born racing character to more recently focusing on the likes of Michael Schumacher and Petter Solberg who have achieved outstanding awards in their individual motor racing […]