Fri 14 Jun 2024

Oliver Solberg snatches home ERC lead

Oliver Solberg leads BAUHAUS Royal Rally of Scandinavia after landing back-to-back stage wins on round three of the FIA European Rally Championship this morning.

Last year’s winner headed into Friday’s first full day of timed action 2.0sec behind overnight leader Hayden Paddon, the 2023 ERC champion.  

Driving a Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 on Pirelli tyres, the 22-year-old Swede closed to within 0.1sec of Paddon (BRC Racing Team Hyundai i20 N Rally2) after he won the day-opening 10.18-kilometre Grönlund test.   

He then charged to the top of the order with a second successive fastest stage time through the 11.74 kilometres of Bomdestad to move 3.1sec ahead of Paddon.  

“We tried to push a bit more in [SS3] but it was very slippery and very difficult,” Solberg said. “I have the memories of the stage with the Polo [from 2023] and now I have to change the style completely. It’s a difficult rally.”

Mārtiṇš Sesks (Team MRF Tyres Toyota GR Yaris Rally2) is third after three stages, one place ahead of Frank Tore Larsen (Volkswagen Polo GTI R5).   

Isak Reiersen was 0.6sec adrift of Solberg through SS2 but he dropped vital seconds on SS3, which he completed with the right-rear tyre off the rim. The Karlstad resident is fifth after four stages, 8.4sec behind childhood friend Solberg.  

Mikko Heikkilä, who was second fastest on SS3 aboard his Michelin-equipped Toyota, is sixth with Mads Østberg seventh followed by ERC points leader Mathieu Franceschi, Johan Kristofferson and Miko Marczyk, who stalled at the start of SS2.  

With his Volkswagen Polo fully repaired following a brief fire during SSS1, 2003 World Rally champion Petter Solberg is 19th in the provisional standings after going 21st and 19th fastest on SS2 and SS3 respectively. Following SS2, Solberg, who hasn’t rallied at international level since 2019, said: “I couldn’t hear the co-driver because it was so noisy with the loose [gravel]. It was difficult but a lot of fun.”

French ex-single-seater racer Tristan Charpentier leads FIA ERC3 and the ERC Fiesta Rally3 Trophy with Mile Johansson ahead in FIA ERC4 and the Hankook-equipped FIA Junior ERC Championship in his Opel Corsa Rally4.   

Max McRae’s bid for a second Junior ERC victory of 2024 ended when he rolled into retirement 5.7 kilometres from the start of SS2. McRae and co-driver Cameron Fair were uninjured but their TRT Rally Team Peugeot 208 Rally4 suffered extensive front-end damage.   

ACI Team Italia’s Geronimo Nerobutto failed to get beyond the 5.4-kilometre mark of SS2 following a high-speed roll. However, Nerobutto and co-driver Alessio Angeli climbed from their badly damaged Peugeot unharmed.  

The first run through the 6.43 Colins stage, which features the iconic Colin’s Crest jump, is up next from 10:07 local time. That’s followed by SS5, Gårdsjö, from 10:51 prior to service in Karlstad. Friday afternoon’s loop begins with the rerun of Grönlund from 13:53.

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