Solberg sets his sights on home success
The stage is set for the first ever Rally Norway in the FIA World Rally Championship. Norway will be the 28th country to join the WRC when the event commences next week in Hamar.
Making the trip from Sweden on a high is Stobart VK M-Sport Ford crew Henning Solberg/Cato Menkerud who finished an impressive fourth in the first of the two snow rallies. Team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila and Matthew Wilson/Michael Orr will be looking forward to another run on the snow after both crews were forced to retire in the last day of the Swedish Rally, not before showing some good pace on the tricky surface.
Rally Norway begins a week after the Uddeholm Swedish Rally on a similar ice-covered surface but in a much different style. Unlike the fast pace of Sweden, Norway is set to be slower and more technical with tricky, narrower roads.
After a candidate rally in 2006, stages have been brought down to lower altitudes in fear of extreme weather conditions that can hamper the region. However, the highest point of elevation in the rally is still more than double that of Sweden.
The rally takes place close to the cities of Hamar and Lillehammer, home to the 1994 Winter Olympic Games, with service held in the Hamar "Viking Ship" Olympic Hall. Norway's large rally following will add extra excitement among competitors and spectators alike, in the only country to produce a World Champion without a round in the Championship.
In conjunction with the rally and to commemorate the 100th anniversary of its motoring federation, Norwegian postal authorities have released commemorative stamps featuring a portrait of Stobart VK M-Sport Ford's very own Henning Solberg.
With five Norwegian Championships to his name and the winner of last years candidate rally, Solberg will be aiming for maximum points on home soil. The Norwegian is very excited about the rally and after a solid but sensible drive in Sweden, he will be one man to keep an eye out for.
This will be the third snow rally for UK driver Matthew Wilson who is looking forward to competing on an even playing field at the brand new event. Wilson steadily improved throughout the Swedish Rally and will look to attack the roads fresh off last week's event.
The Finnish crew of Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila have experience on snow and ice covered roads and will be searching for points on the last snow rally of the year. Latvala showed competitive pace in Sweden climbing as high as fifth proving he will not take a back seat in next week's Rally Norway.
Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Driver Matthew Wilson said:
"Norway should hopefully be better for me than Sweden. I struggled with the difficult conditions but I think in Norway they will be more consistent and hopefully it will help me to push on. It's also more of a level playing field, nearly everyone will be going there and having to make new pace notes. For once my lack of WRC experience may not be as big a disadvantage. I really want to have a good run and finish well after the disappointment in Sweden."
Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Driver Jari-Matti Latvala said:
"I am feeling confident heading to Norway. I have just finished three days of driving on the snow roads and my feeling with the car is really good. I was happy with the times I set in Sweden and know that I wasn't driving totally flat-out, I was always keeping some speed in reserve as I knew that I had to use the car again soon. Sweden didn't finish well for us but I am concentrated on showing some top times in Norway now."
Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Driver Henning Solberg said.
"It's my home rally and I'm really excited! I know there will be many spectators out to cheer me on, and it will help, but I also need to stay calm and focused. We went to Sweden with the plan of a top-five finish there and hopefully a podium in Norway. Now I am halfway there, I will be really trying to go well and aiming for the podium place. The car feels really good and I am happy with everything. I can't wait to get started."
Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Principal Malcolm Wilson said:
"I think the team should go well here, Henning has obviously demonstrated he has the speed and ability, and he won this event last year; he's aiming for a podium and I really don't see any reason why he can't achieve this. Jari-Matti also has a lot of experience on this surface and I think he will surprise a few people. It's a new event for most people, and I think this will help Matthew. I expect him to go better than Sweden."