Solberg takes the opening round in Montalegre, Portugal.
The word 'world' was crucial during this weekend's rallycross action in Montalegre, Portugal. Not only was it the very first ever World Rallycross Championship event, it was the former World Rally Champion Petter Solberg who took the glory at the end of the day
The level of competition was extremely high from the word 'go,' when the long-awaited season finally kicked off. Early pace-setter Timur Timerzyanov and his teammate Timmy Hansen were among the favorites to take the overall win. However there was no happy ending for the Red Bull-backed Hansen crew, that switched to Peugeot machinery this season after years of running Citroens.
Despite Timerzyanov's pole position both cars dropped-out in the semi-finals. Meanwhile Solberg managed to stay out of trouble, combining speed with consistency. After a win in the semi-final, 'Mr Hollywood' made it to The Final, where, despite not being the quickest of the line, he took another commanding victory.
The Norwegian scored hist first triumph at the World Championship level since his victory in the 2005 Wales Rally GB. Last year, after switching from rallying to rallycross, he failed to make it to the top step of the podium in the European Championship.
The podium was completed by the Olsbergs MSE drivers Andreas Bakkerud and Reinis Nitiss. The Global Rallycross Championship-winning team – despite an all-new driver line-up – proved that it's going to be a threat again this year.
The only other World Champion in the field – Jacquese Villeneuve – experienced a dreadful weekend. The former Formula 1 star didn't make it to the semi-finals after suffering from technical issues in his Albatec-run Peugeot 208.
Petter ‘Hollywood’ Solberg has shown just why he may be the most exciting driver in the newly-created FIA World Rallycross Championship by winning the opening round in Montalegre, Portugal.
“It’s a huge, huge emotion,” said Petter, surrounded by his loyal PSRX team and his wife, as well as team manager, Pernilla. “We’ve had some huge downs since we started rallycross and now this is a huge high, which I’ll always remember. To achieve what we have done – building a team from scratch, taking on established manufacturers with a private team, doing it all ourselves, with our own hands – has been a huge effort and sacrifice. But now all those nights without sleep have been worth it. I’d like to describe the feeling but it’s almost impossible. Let’s just say that I’m very happy.”
“It means so much to me because it’s been achieved completely through our own hard work and determination. I’ve invested so much in this team and we have world-class facilities now, even though we don’t get any manufacturer support. But our mission this year was still to fight to win and we’re already doing that. I’d like to thank all our partners and of course our fans who made it possible. We’re going to enjoy this moment and savour every minute. It’s a very, very special moment in my career. Then we get straight back to work. This win just makes us all the more determined to carry on in this way. We’ve got a benchmark to aim for now!”
Quotes via Solberg World RX Team