WRC

Solberg to Drive Ford Focus on Rally of Portugal

Solberg to drive Ford Focus on Rally of Portugal Norway's Petter Solberg will drive the second Ford Focus World Rally Car on the Rally of Portugal, round four of the FIA World Rally Championship, later this month. Solberg, who finished a superb...

Solberg to drive Ford Focus on Rally of Portugal

Norway's Petter Solberg will drive the second Ford Focus World Rally Car on the Rally of Portugal, round four of the FIA World Rally Championship, later this month. Solberg, who finished a superb fifth overall on Kenya's Safari Rally last week on his debut for the Ford Martini World Rally Team, will be partnered by 1997 British Champion co-driver Philip Mills.

Solberg's performance on the Safari, when he played a crucial supporting role to rally winner and Ford Martini team-mate Colin McRae, was one of the highlights of the event. He stepped in at short notice to replace the injured Thomas Rådstrom and, as Rådstrom will not be fit to drive in Portugal, the 24-year-old will again deputise.

"Following Petter's tremendous performance in Kenya where his result exceeded our expectations, this is an ideal opportunity for him to increase his level of experience in the World Rally Championship," said Ford Martini World Rally Team director Malcolm Wilson. "We're not putting any pressure on him and a points finish would be a real bonus for both him and the Ford Martini team.

"After Thomas' unfortunate accident in Kenya when he broke his left leg before the start of the rally, he has had a steel pin inserted from his knee down to his ankle. He's making a tremendous recovery, already walking without aid and cycling twice a day to regain his fitness but it's too risky for Thomas to drive in Portugal so soon after such a serious accident. We would rather wait until he is fully fit and expect him to rejoin the team for the Rally Argentina in May, his next scheduled rally after Portugal," added Wilson.

Solberg, who has never even visited Portugal before, is relishing the unexpected opportunity of a second drive with the Ford Martini team. "This is another great chance for me. I learned so much in Kenya. about the Ford Focus, the Ford Martini team and rallying at World Championship level. Malcolm Wilson's wealth of experience and the guidance from other members of the team has helped me enormously and I'm really looking forward to driving in Portugal," he said.

The four-day Rally of Portgual is based in Porto from 21 - 24 March.

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About this article
Series WRC
Drivers Colin McRae , Petter Solberg , Philip Mills , Thomas Radstrom , Malcolm Wilson