Thu 23 May 2024

Solberg Sr answers Royal Rally call with ERC return after 26 years

Petter Solberg, the winner of the 2003 FIA World Rally Championship, will make a shock return to the FIA European Rally Championship next month.

The 49-year-old legend will contest BAUHAUS Royal Rally of Scandinavia from 13 - 15 June – 26 years and 21 days since he finished second on the South Swedish Rally, then a coefficient ERC event. And he will do so in the family-owned Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 his 22-year-old son Oliver used to claim victory on the first running of BAUHAUS Royal Rally of Scandinavia last July (below).

Asked what prompted his return to the ERC and his first attempt at the full version of the Karlstad-based event, Solberg said: “It was calling me… every time I was in the workshop, the car was telling me to use it. You can’t ignore that.   

“You know me, you know this family – rallying is everything to us. Last year I took my mother for a ride in my Citroën C4 WRC on one stage of Royal Rally. That was nice, but Oliver was having all the fun and winning the rally.  

“I want to have some of that fun. The rally is really close for us, we have a lot of friends and family close by and, of course, we have Monster Energy, Pirelli and Castrol coming with us. We take the Polo and we do this together.”

Solberg was in action in the Legends section of BAUHAUS Royal Rally of Scandinavia last year, which covered selected stages of the main ERC counter, including the Colins Stage and the famous Colin’s Crest Arena section.  

“This is to enjoy,” Solberg said. “The priority is to drive the car – the first ever Polo R5 made, chassis number one – to make the smiles and to give something to the rally fans coming from Norway and for those people watching the ERC from around the world. Last year we worked hard to help the organisers to build this event up and this is the same. Like always, we do everything we can to build rallying up some more.  

“I don’t go there trying to win, it’s for the show and to enjoy the driving. We know there are a lot of very fast drivers in ERC – it’s one hell of a competition. It will be tough. It’s five years since I did Rally GB (winning WRC2 and finishing 10th overall), nothing since then. The speed is incredible in the championship and you can’t just switch it back on.”

Having been partnered by British co-drivers for the bulk of his professional career, Solberg has recruited Swede Jonas Andersson (above) for round three of the 2024 ERC season.  

“This is something nice,” Solberg said. “We live close by, but we didn’t compete together before. I am really looking forward to this, being back in the car is something special. Look at Carlos [Sainz], he is incredible to be winning Dakar and doing what he is doing. He was my team-mate in 1999, and a big and special person for me in my career and still he is like an inspiration. I’m so excited. Tell them, the comeback is on.”

News of Solberg’s planned BAUHAUS Royal Rally of Scandinavia participation comes 26 years to the day of the South Swedish Rally finishing in the city of Kristianstad on 23 May 1998. Cato Menkerud, who would go on to forge a successful alliance with Petter’s older brother Henning, partnered the younger Solberg in a Toyota Celica GT-Four (above).   

BAUHAUS Royal Rally of Scandinavia ticket information is available here:

South Swedish Rally photo by Tommy Svensson with thanks

Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 7:00:00 AM
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM