Subscribe

Sign up for free

  • Get quick access to your favorite articles

  • Manage alerts on breaking news and favorite drivers

  • Make your voice heard with article commenting.

Motorsport prime

Discover premium content
Subscribe

Edition

Global
Race report
General Race of Champions

Race of Champions: Norway wins second straight Nations Cup

An imperious display of precision winter driving by Oliver Solberg led Team Norway to a second consecutive Race of Champions Nations Cup triumph at Pite Havsbad in Sweden.

Partnered once again by his father Petter, the younger Solberg was unbeaten on the day and will go into Sunday’s individual Race of Champions event at the same venue as firm favourite.

The Norwegian rally aces both contributed to their quarter-final victory over Team France, in which they won four out of four against Adrien Tambay and Sebastien Loeb.

But from the semi-final onwards, it was the younger Solberg who did most of the business.

With Norway up against the Swedish combination of Mattias Ekstrom and Johan Kristoffersson, Oliver Solberg's raw speed proved decisive in breaking the 2-2 tie between the teams.

He won both of his heats, while his experienced father came off second-best in two tight duels, losing out to Ekstrom by a thousand of a second after a scrappy exit to the last corner.

Norway then faced unlikely opposition in the final: Team All Stars. Race of Champions rookies Felipe Drugovich and Thierry Neuville had already sprung a surprise by knocking out eight-time Nations Cup winner Team Germany (Sebastian Vettel and Mick Schumacher) in the semis, with Neuville emerging as one of the standout individual performers in the ever-changing conditions brought on by a relatively warm day in northern Sweden.

Another small mistake from Solberg Sr gave Neuville first blood as the best-of-five final showdown got underway with a battle in the electric Cupras, but his son made it 1-1 by defeating Drugovich despite taking him on in a Polaris RZR with which he was relatively unfamiliar.

The older Solberg then got a score on the board with a comfortable win over Drugovich as they switched to the Supercar Lites. That set up a Zeroid X1 battle between Neuville and Oliver Solberg, in which the latter could seal the Nations Cup with victory.

The pair were effectively neck-and-neck after the crossover at the end of lap one, and were heading for a close finish.

But Solberg’s run through the fiddly last two corners following the underpass was the perfect blend of speed, patience and control that had eluded most others on the day.

Thierry Neuville, Team All Stars'

Thierry Neuville, Team All Stars'

Photo by: Jerry Andre / Motorsport Images

This got him over the line ahead of the impressive Neuville, leaving an embrace from dad and a free dinner as the only remaining items of business for the day.

Having won the Nations Cup last year, the Solbergs have ensured Norway are unbeaten in the post-pandemic era.

But there was no shame in the semi-final exit for perennial favourites Germany, who had swept aside Britain’s David Coulthard and Jamie Chadwick in their preliminary round – though Chadwick enjoyed the personal satisfaction of defeating Vettel in her heat.

e-ROC drivers Lucas Blakeley and Jarno Opmeer also deserve a mention for getting past a Finland team represented by Mika Hakkinen and Valtteri Bottas in their preliminary round.

But while their speed was clear, they were unable to keep a lid on the mistakes in their quarter-final, where Schumacher and Vettel needed only to keep it clean to progress.

Be part of Motorsport community

Join the conversation

Related video

Previous article How women are tackling barriers in motorsport
Next article Ekstrom defeats Schumacher for fourth Race of Champions victory

Top Comments

There are no comments at the moment. Would you like to write one?

Sign up for free

  • Get quick access to your favorite articles

  • Manage alerts on breaking news and favorite drivers

  • Make your voice heard with article commenting.

Motorsport prime

Discover premium content
Subscribe

Edition

Global