It’s been a busy opening phase to 2023 for Oliver Solberg. In his new Monster Energy Skoda Fabia RS Rally2 for the 2023 World Rally Championship season, WRC2 challenger Solberg has already competed in the 2023 Rallye Automobile Monte Carlo as well as the 2023 Rally Sweden, and taken early control of the ‘23 WRC2 title chase.
“I think it’s fair to say I am happy with everything in my life right now,” said Solberg of his rapid start. “The win in Sweden, to be joint leading the championship and to be with this team and this car… it’s all good right now.”
RACER spoke with the Swede as he prepared for the third round in Mexico.
Q: Although you were not registered for WRC2 points at the season opening Rallye Monte-Carlo, you managed to win 10 of 18 stages to dominate the WRC2 classification. Looking back, what’s your take from Monte Carlo?
OLIVER SOLBERG: Yes, it has been a great year so far. At the Monte-Carlo I didn’t do points, so I was there just to drive and, yeah, we were the quickest car out there. We won 10 out of 18 stages, so for sure it was a great start to the season just to build confidence and to have a good feeling in the car. Then there was the Rally Sweden and winning my first World Championship race at home. That was an incredible, incredible feeling. Leading the World Championship now, it’s a great feeling.
Q: You and the Skoda Fabia RS Rally2 appear to be a good match. How has it been with the Skoda car, team and organization thus far in 2023?
OS: We’ve been working very, very hard and we have a good package and a good base with the car. I felt confident really from the beginning and knew that we were working on something good. The team is very good and they are very supportive and they’re open to do everything. We have good communication within the team to build a very good relationship moving forward.
Q: You’ll soon leave your home base in Sweden to travel to the WRC Guanajuato Rally Mexico which is next week. How do you feel about Mexico and the gravel?
OS: I’m super-excited to almost go back to Stateside! It’s great to come back to Mexico. They have super, super passionate fans there. They’re probably some of the best rally fans in the world. It’s great to go there and build upon what we are doing and to be a part of the second round of the 2023 WRC2 World Championship is going to be fun.
Q: How do you feel about the 2023 WRC World Championship? Do you feel good about everything before you?
OS: Yes, for sure. It’s a good start but we need to keep building and to keep working hard to always be prepared for every race. So far so good. I am confident with the car and everything feels good within the team as well, so I am very, very happy to feel good about having a good season in 2023. We have a good family working on it. We’re leading the World Championship right now and for sure it is going to be very, very tough. We need to give it everything and the team is ready and I’m ready. I feel that we have a good package to try and win the championship.
Q: Your dad was the 2003 world champion and he’s always been quite present in all of your rally activities and travels. How are you two guys together?
OS: Well, I mean at home he’s more my dad and then when we go to races he is more my engineer! So we have this kind of good relationship between rallying and home and we both love what we do so much. It’s a lifestyle, a passion and that’s what makes it all so fun. We can do it as a family together. Sometimes my dad gets mad at me because we have different opinions, you know? I think that is good, as well. I think it’s good that we have our fights and then we actually make a conclusion from our different opinions and stuff and I think that’s good.
Q: Are you a fan of this history of the World Rally Championship? Do you ever go back and see what all came before you in the sport?
OS: Yes. That’s my favorite part of rally. My favorite part of it is the history. I love all the 1990s and early 2000s when there were over 20 drivers and there were 10 manufacturers. It was so big at the time and it was Citroen against Subaru and red against blue. That stuff was legendary and that’s what I love about rallying. I love the 1990s and 2000s and the history.