Phil Mills says the World Rally Championship will miss Petter Solberg 'more than people realise' after the Norwegian's recent announcement that he will not compete in 2013.
Solberg took the decision
after Ford's decision to withdraw from the sport left M-Sport seeking funding to compete – with the 2003 champion stating that he wasn't prepared to pay to drive next year.
It will be the first time in well over a decade that Solberg hasn't featured in the field and Mills, who partnered Solberg to his title and sat alongside the Norwegian through to 2010, said he was a big personality for the sport to lose.
“A few years ago, somebody said that if there had been four Petter Solbergs in rallying, then Formula One would have shut down,” he told WRC.com
. “At the time I just laughed, but now I actually completely agree with that. That's how big his personality is.
“I think the sport will miss Petter an awful lot: more than people realise. He's a huge character and there are not enough of them out there.
“It was a long time for us to be sitting four inches apart: we laughed together, cried together and nearly died together. Aside from his fantastic driving talent, nobody was a better showman than Petter. He was brilliant with the fans and with end of stage interviews: just a fantastic ambassador for the whole sport. If I could do it all over again with him, I would.”
Mills called the notes for Solberg for each of his 13 WRC victories while the pair were at Subaru.