14 December 2010
Crash.net EXCLUSIVE: Q&A: Petter Solberg
2003 World Rally champion Petter Solberg speaks exclusively to Crash.net Radio's Rob Wilkins.
Petter Solberg enjoyed a strong season this year and his privately entered team took the fight to the factory cars of Sebastien Loeb, Sebastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala et al on more than one occasion.
Indeed such was his form, that we gave him top spot in our 2010 top ten World Rally drivers' ranking. Here the Norwegian speaks exclusively to Crash.net Radio's Rob Wilkins about the season just gone and he talks candidly about what might happen in 2011...
Petter, congratulations on a great year, Crash.net recently gave you top spot in our 2010 top ten World Rally drivers' list. What do accolades like that mean to you?
It means a lot to me and it is nice to get that credit for everything we have gone through [this year]. We are pushing the limits and for me it is a very good thing personally.
What you achieved this season was remarkable - third in the drivers' championship and eight podiums. Did you think you could do that at the start of the season?
To be honest, I know we are a private team, have a small budget and only have two cars - and if I had had a big accident I think the championship would have been over for me this year - but I know also that I am fast enough to do it. I would never have started it if I knew it wasn't possible to fight in the top-three. Everybody said, even my engineer, FX [François-Xavier Demaison], said it was very difficult. But I said: 'Let's try and if we can do it and prove it, it means that anything is possible'.
Looking back over 2010, what would you say was the highlight?
When it started in Mexico, the first of our eight podiums - that was special. But all of the rallies have been good, except for Sweden. New Zealand we had a big, big chance of winning, like many other rallies. But it is a lot to do with strategy and politics - you know how it is. Rally GB was maybe one of the better ones this year and Spain also was very remarkable.
You changed co-drivers after Portugal. How have things gelled with Chris Patterson and have you missed Phil Mills at all?
Of course I miss Phil. It is hard not to. But the job that Chris has done is unbelievable. He is a very clever guy and has really done his work properly. You need to put a lot of work and effort in. I am quite a perfectionist and want to have everything right. But he is doing a very good job and I have been very impressed with what he has done.
I understand you had to fund the final couple of events out of your own pocket. How tough was it running your own team?
Like I've said before, you never know how it is going to go with the budget. When you start something though, you just have to finish it. It has been hard work and I have not been at home much. It is the same now after the rallies and we will just have to see how far we can come to get everything together [for 2011]. I still don't have anything ready, except for the one rally with the Peugeot [in the IRC]. It is good to have something.
As you said, you are going to do Rallye Monte Carlo with a Peugeot 207 Super 2000. Are you looking forward to that?
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