Hell for Solberg as he’s taken out at home
17 June 2013
Petter Solberg's home round of the FIA European Rallycross Championship should have been a massive party for the local hero but, instead, for the second successive weekend, it turned into a nightmare through absolutely no fault of his own.
Having been comfortably quickest on the opening day in Hell, Norway, 'Hollywood' was looking forward to going through to the finals in front of his home fans, on an amazing circuit. Sadly, it was not to be as, during the third heat, British rival Liam Doran turned into the 2003 World Rally champion, breaking the suspension on his Citroen.
With the fourth heat coming up quickly, the damage couldn't be completely repaired in time and, although Solberg asked for extra time to complete the job on safety grounds, his request fell on deaf ears – with inevitable results.
Once again, the Norwegian suffered a suspension problem in heat four when the assembly broke loose – a direct result of the aggressive contact in the third heat – and he thus missed out on a place in the semi-finals.
“That wasn't very nice at all from Liam Doran - not the sort of thing you would expect from another rallycross driver,” Solberg sighed, “Exactly the same thing happened in Finland last weekend.
“After heat three, I asked the organisers for an extra half-minute so my mechanics could properly repair the suspension, but we weren't allowed the extra time. So, of course, we knew - before we even started the race - that the suspension would break again and, sadly, that's exactly what happened. I couldn't really do anything but struggle to the finish line.”
Saturday's dominant performance – as has so often been the case this year – demonstrated exactly what Solberg was capable of, making Sunday's early exit even more frustrating for a driver hoping to seal his first overall rallycross success in front of his home crowd.
“It's just so sad that I wasn't able to show them what I really can do,” he said, “This was the most important race of the year for my sponsors, the team and myself, obviously.
“I feel really confident with the car now, but there's not much you can do about situations like the one we found ourselves in today. It's real pity but the positives we can take away are the speed that we showed again and the huge support we enjoyed from all the fans. I'd like to thank everybody so much for coming and, next time, we're going to do it...”