Solberg expecting brutal Safari Rally race but still optimistic

The Swede, who did not finish last year`s edition because of a damaged chassis, says he will be content with finishing the rally, and with a good result.

In Summary

• The 20-year-old believes that the rally will be tougher than many expect

• He will be driving a hybrid Hyundai i20 N Rally 1 car

• Solberg is looking forward to experiencing Kenyan hospitality. 

Oliver Solberg gestures at past rally championships.
Oliver Solberg gestures at past rally championships.

Swedish rally driver, Oliver Solberg, says that this year`s Safari Rally will not be as easy as many people think based on the experiences of the previous edition in 2021. 

The 20-year-old retired from last year's edition after a damaged chassis to his Hyundai. 

"The challenges may be more compared to what I experienced last year. This race is about survival and control of speed. I have learned to lower my expectations and I anticipate that the rally will be rougher than I think. Last year, many cars retired on the first day because of different issues," Solberg said.

At just 17, Solberg—son of former rally legend Petter Solberg—became the youngest European champion at Rally Liepaja. However, in Kenya, Solberg says he will be content with finishing the race, and with a good result. 

"My main goal is to get to the finish line with a good result. This being the first time I am driving the car on a rough road, it will be challenging but I hope to finish well," he said.

Solberg made his first full WRC campaign two years ago in his own Polo R5 before shifting to Skoda Motorsport. 

After winning the ERC 1 at the European Championship, he signed a two-year deal with Hyundai Motorsport in 2021. 

The Swede shares an i20 N Rally1 car with Dani Sordo. He spoke of his excitement at driving in the hybrid machine at the Safari Rally. 

"This rally is quite fast with a lot of straights. I need some electric help to get to a higher speed. It will be interesting to use the hybrid car in the race. With all the bumps and rough paths, it may be difficult to operate the car but hopefully, everything will go well," he said. 

Other than competing, the Swede is looking forward to experiencing the customary Kenyan hospitality and warm atmosphere as he did, the last time he was in the country. 

"Last year, the atmosphere here was fantastic but the race was not and that is what I have to improve on. This rally is always different from the rest because you get to see animals and fans. The atmosphere is also cool and the race is more free and open," Solberg said. 

He was speaking on Sunday morning at Crater Centre in Nairobi during an autograph session ahead of this weekend`s Safari Rally. 

Solberg will be among the top international drivers who will be battling in Naivasha to win the Kenyan leg of the WRC calendar.