Solberg: a second from heaven in Hell, Norway at World Rallycross
Nittis first, Solberg second, Ken Block third
After a week of jokes about the road to Hell, Petter Solberg came within one second of finding heaven in Hell.
Solberg said: “In the final we had some challenges with a wet track. I decided to go out on a medium setup – a compromise between wet and dry. I lost some time because of that, but it wasn’t worth the risk by choosing one or the other.
“[Final winner, Reinis] Nitiss drove very well during the whole weekend. He impresses me. I came out of the joker lap and was in a position to take up the fight with him, but decided to back off. We need to be clever in the race for the title: you don’t become a world champion in one day in this game. It takes 12 races!
“We’ve had a lot of strategy meetings in our team during the last week and that’s the way we will continue. I drove on the safe side all weekend – just focusing on getting the most championship points possible.
“The racing was really close all weekend, but it started terribly for me when I missed out on the start in the first heat, which was totally my own fault. I managed to stay focused on our strategy and I stayed out of any kind of trouble in the last three races. The track in Norway is very difficult, you have to be careful in every corner. One mistake among 38 cars will make it so tough for you. That’s why I was so focused on driving as smooth as possible.
“In the fourth heat I even got a win and from then everything worked out great. Our strategy was spot on and I could drive my own race. It’s a shame to miss the win for the home fans, but, like I said, this is the long game – we got very good points here and we’re still really close to the top.”
A home win for the hjem (check your Norwegian-English dictionary – or last week’s PSRX preview) hero was just beyond one of Norway’s biggest sporting superstars Petter Solberg at his home World RX round today.
But, there was a plan. As Solberg has explained, his eyes are firmly on the big prize and second in the Hell final this afternoon moves him closer to a top of the table return.
Solberg dominated the early competition, winning heat four and his semi-final to give himself the perfect platform to take a second win from three rounds. Ultimately, he settled for a comfortable second place – three seconds ahead of American driver Ken Block.
PSRX driver Solberg is now just three points behind Nitiss in the World RX championship. Finnish driver Topi Heikkinen is third in the standings, 10 points behind Petter.
Solberg’s team-mate Alexander Hvaal, driving the sister Citroen to Petter’s, missed out on World RX points in Norway.
Hvaal said: “My misfortune continues. I’m very disappointed. I struggled with all kinds of problems during the weekend and didn’t get a clean run. In the end, I had a puncture in the final heat and couldn’t get to the semi-final.”
One thing we liked about Hell:
The fans. They were amazing! That’s because so many of them were Norwegians!
One thing we didn’t like about Hell:
Finishing second. We love winning!
1 Reinis Nitiss 4m07.165s
2 Petter Solberg 4m08.153s
3 Ken Block 4m11.057s
4 Timur Timerzyanov 4m.12.539s
5 Henning Solberg 4m17.040s
6 Timmy Hansen 4m50.381s
1 Reinis Nitiss 72pts
2 Petter Solberg 69pts
3 Topi Heikkinen 59pts
4 Andreas Bakkerud 57pts
5 Timur Timerzyanov 41pts
6 Anton Marklund 39pts
Next time out
We’ll be in Kouvola for World RX of Finland (June 28/29).
Nitiss takes early lead at Hell RX in Norway
18-year-old Nitiss takes FIA World RX of Norway