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  • Writer's pictureSteve Jones

Oliver ready for his Roger Albert Clark Rally adventure

[Image courtesy of Oliver Solberg]

Oliver Solberg is ready for what he expects to be one of the biggest challenges of his career when he starts Britain’s Roger Albert Clark Rally this week.

The 22-year-old is making his competitive debut in a Ford Escort RS1800 and he’s doing it on one of the longest and toughest rallies of the season.

This week’s Roger Albert Clark Rally starts from Wales on Wednesday, then heads up through the principality, north through England and into Scotland before returning south of the border for a Monday evening finish in Carlisle.

In that time, the crews will have completed 33 stages and 563 competitive kilometres.

“It’s going to be a proper adventure,” said Oliver, who tested the Ford Escort RS1800 for the first time earlier this month.

“We went to Sweet Lamb to test,” he continued. “Even this place is quite a legendary name. I didn’t know so much what to expect before the test, but driving for the day in Wales, I felt comfortable straight away.

“I was surprised at how light the car felt without the power steering – that was something I thought I would notice more. What I did notice was the slides. It was amazing: 10,700 revs and big, big drifts, it felt very cool.

“And the speed is good. I’d say the top speed is probably even higher than in the Škoda I’ve been driving this year – and, of course, the noise is something else. Even inside the car, I can hear the engine when we’re going through the gears!”

Looking forward to the event itself, Oliver admitted he was in the dark quite literally.

“I don’t know what to expect,” he said, “apart from a big adventure. We have so many stages and so many kilometres to do this week. And, I think, something like 50% of the time we’re going to be in the dark. For me and Elliott [Edmondson] it’s going to be super-exciting.”

The lack of a recce and the use of organiser-supplied descriptive route notes will make the job for Oliver and Elliott more complicated.

“The notes from the organisers will be something new and doing this kind of super-long event is also something new. The main aim for me is to come to the finish and enjoy the whole challenge.”

Oliver admits there’s a personal reason for him competing in Britain this week.

“My Grandpa [Per-Inge Walfridsson] did this event in a Lancia Stratos in 1976,” he said. “He finished fourth overall when this event was a round of the world championship – it’ll be great to follow in his footsteps!”

With the Ford Escort RS1800 fettled and in perfect condition thanks to Phil Mills’ expert preparation firm Viking Motorsport, Oliver and Elliott are ready for the adventure of a lifetime.

“When Phil called me and asked me if I wanted to do this event, I said yes straight away. Now I’m starting to wonder what I’ve got myself into! Like I said, it’s going to be one hell of an adventure!

“The car is fantastic, thanks to Phil and his team for all their work. And the livery is also something very special… thanks to Monster Energy.

“It’s going to be one very cool week. See you out there, you’ll definitely see us coming!”

he Roger Albert Clark Rally starts from Carmarthen in Wales on Wednesday November 22. Thursday and Friday are spent heading north through Welsh stages like Crychan, Myherin and Hafren. Saturday’s classic Scottish Borders territory with Ae and Dalbeattie included before the route turns south and dives into Kielder for two days before finishing in Carlisle on Monday November 27.

The 350-mile (560 kilometres) route will be the longest stage rally in the UK for more than 30 years.

1 Comment

Nov 21, 2023

Thete must be some wild cams in it to rev to 10700, most cars back in the day were well over the top of the power curve at 8500,

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