Solberg has taken four wins already in this year’s inaugural championship – and third place at Italy’s Franciacorta track last week was enough for him to seal the title with two rounds remaining. The Norwegian also won the 2003 World Rally Championship, so he has now secured his place in the driving elite by reaching the top of the world in two different fields of motorsport.
This year’s success comes as no surprise as Solberg began his career in rallycross, inspired by his parents, who were both keen autocross drivers. The Norwegian went on to win two national titles before switching to rallying. He enjoyed four finishes in the WRC top two with Subaru machinery – including his 2003 title – before spending four years running his own team, amassing over 50 WRC podiums overall.
Such a blend of ability – coupled with his recent experience of the exciting all-action short-track racing that makes up rallycross – is sure to stand Solberg in good stead as he bids for more glory at the 2014 Race of Champions. His last appearance came at Wembley in 2007 when he partnered his brother Henning to the ROC Nations Cup semi-finals for Team Norway.
“Ever since I got back last week, it’s been absolutely crazy in Norway and Sweden,” Solberg said, “I’ve been flat-out every day, but it’s no problem when you win – and I’ve now made history as the first driver to win the FIA World Rallycross Championship, so I couldn’t be happier. I worked so hard for this thing, but if nobody else can help me to be a world champion, I’ll do it myself. That’s what we have done.
“Doing a 60km rally stage is no problem, but four laps on a rallycross track – with all the other crazy people around you – is like a heart attack, so I really hope that experience can help at the Race of Champions because I want to give it a proper shot and fight hard to win in Barbados.
“There are a lot of good drivers who I respect very much, but it doesn’t matter who it is. When I do things I want to do them 110 per cent. I also like to attack so I’ll put on a good show for the spectators anyway…”
Solberg joins a RoC line-up featuring stars from all over the motorsport world, including nine-time Le Mans 24 Hours winner Tom Kristensen, F1 star and reigning RoC Champion of Champions winner Romain Grosjean, Australian V8 Supercar legend Jamie Whincup and this year’s Indianapolis 500 winner, Ryan Hunter-Reay. The rest of the ROC 2014 field will be announced in the run-up to December’s event.
“It’s great to have Petter back with us at the Race of Champions again,” organiser Fredrik Johnsson added, “He was always one of the most exciting drivers during his long career in the World Rally Championship and his domination of the first ever FIA World Rallycross Championship shows he is still at the very top of his game.
“There are definite similarities between rallycross and the Race of Champions when it comes to relentless high-speed twists and turns on a short circuit, so it will be very interesting to see if Petter can carry his form over to our own intense brand of racing. He’ll be facing some of the best drivers from all over the world, but no doubt he’ll push as hard as ever for another win in December. What’s certain is that his exciting style will entertain the big crowds at the Bushy Park Circuit in Barbados.”