2 DECEMBER 7 2011 motorsport-news.co.uk
IN THIS ISSUE
THE VOICE OF BRITISH MOTORSPORT ISSUE JA2799
“Nobody doubts Kimi’s speed”
P4 Renault promises signing Räikkönen a winning car
ROWLAND CLAIMS YOUNG
Renault star wins £100,000 and a McLaren F1 test
Ø STBERG IMPRESSED AFTER MINI
Norwegian privateer mulls a switch to British car
HOW LOEB CLIMBED THE MOUNTAIN FOR
AN EIGHTH TIME
Read how Citroën’s ace shone in our four-page review
Historic race and rally news
WRC season review
SUBSCRIBETOMOTORSPORTNEWS 28 Insight:Mikkelsen’s small day out 29 Champions:Dino Zamparelli 30 Race of Champions report 31 Rally reports 31 Sporting Scene round-up 32 Karting round-up 34 Letters/Comment/What’s On 36 Classified 38 Wanted:Now Kimi’s back,how about a decent F1 drive for his countryman Rosberg.Keke,that is...
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Former champion says that he will push
Former champion says that he will push for works drive – or quit the WRC
Solber g (l) and team head Rees
ByDanMcCalla Petter Solberg is pinning his hopes on the vacant second drive at Ford in his continuing quest to win a second World Rally Championship title.
The 37-year-old has conceded defeat in his three-year attempt to succeed in world rallying by running his own team, set up after he found himself without a drive when Subaru pulled out of the sport at the end of 2008. Having had to fund the team out of his own pocket in order to complete the 2011 season, the Norwegian has now decided to focus all his efforts on securing a seat at Ford alongside Jari-Matti Latvala, the one theoretical factory drive that remains vacant in 2012. M-Sport is unable to confirm any drivers for its team until Ford’s European board has made its decision onwhether to re-commit to world championship rallying. Bosses at the Blue Oval have confirmed that no decision will be made on its WRCfuture this week. The team refused to comment when asked byMotorsport News if Solberg was being officially considered for a Ford drive, but Solberg has been in regular contact with team boss Malcolm Wilson about rejoining the team with which he started his topline rally career over a decade ago.
“I’m still working on it, and this is myonly chance to continue in the sport,” Solberg told MN. “I don’t want to do a privateer team any more. I’ve done it for three years now. There’s no other newmanufacturers coming in yet, but I have one chance for next year and that is with Malcolm. Wehave to wait and see what happens, as it depends what the plan is [with Ford and its WRC commitment]. There’s no chance of doing a team with mybrother or anything like that. It’s only a factory team now – or nothing.”
Ford is Solberg’s only remaining hope of aworks drive, after VW opted to sign up Sébastien Ogier to lead its attack in 2013.
Autosport Autosport Autosport
Speaking at the Autosport Awards in London on Sunday night, Solberg said that he still feels he has the ability andmotivation to overhaul Sébastien Loeb, who has won every drivers’ crown since Solberg secured his sole triumph in 2003. “It’s my passion and I really want to be back next year. I was the last driver to beat Sébastien, I’m younger than him so I would like to do it again.”
Solberg’s fresh drive for a top-line seat comes at the end of a frustrating year in a customer Citroën DS3 WRC, runmainly by the PHSport team under his ownPetter Solberg World Rally Team banner. After finishing third in the 2010 championship in a Citroën C4, Solberg was hopeful that the new breed of cars introduced to the WRC this year would give him a chance to fight on equal terms with his factorybacked rivals and end his six-year drought for awin.
This didn’t happen, as some unfortunate mechanical problems, a spate of punctures and a tendency to be punished by works outfits’ team orders restricted him to just two podium finishes, compared to a haul of eight in 2010. Solberg finished fifth in the final standings, with less than half the points total of Loeb. His team principal during his Petter Solberg WRTproject, Ken Rees, says that Solberg’s trying 2011 campaign has convinced the veteran that a factory car is vital to his chances of winning another title.
“Petter had a chat to Malcolm about the possibility at the awards on Sunday, but there is still so much up in the air with the sport at the moment,” said Rees. “Petter still very muchwants to find a factory seat, and for various reasons things will have to happen very soon. Petter wants success, and the only way he can get that is in a factory car. It’s the only way he can win, and the only way he’d be allowed to win. At the moment he doesn’t want to be in a customer car again, but if anyone wants to stay in the championship, it’s Petter.”
If Solberg’s plan to land the Ford drive doesn’t come off, either due to Ford’s withdrawal of factory support orM-Sport opting to run a younger talent (see sidebar), he does still have one alternative to remain in the World Rally Championship thanks to backers in his homeland.
They have expressed an interest in supporting a patriotic ‘Team Solberg’ in 2012.
Petter’s elder brother Henning, who finished ninth in the WRCthis year, could join forces with his sibling, as the pair together enjoy a high media profile in Norway. While Petter Solberg says he isn’t prepared
Solberg snatched a title
Solberg snatched a title
After a quick rise through the ranks at Ford, and a sudden switch to Subaru midway through the 2000 season, Solberg clinched the 2003 world title by a single point ahead of Sébastien Loeb by winning the season finale in Wales Classified advertising: 0208 267 5355
motorsport-news.co.uk DECEMBER 7 2011 3
for works drive – or quit the WRC
to consider an all-Solberg effort at this moment, Rees believes that such a project could be put into place if all other avenues are exhausted.
“There is that Plan B that does have some sponsor interest and somemoney behind it,” Rees said. “Henning has no plans for next year at the moment, so the two brothers joining forces [in a team] is still a possibility.
“There is some excitement in Norway about the two of them joining forces but I know that Petter still wants to work separately if he can. There are also some options that Petter has outside the WRCaswell.”
WHO COULDTURN BLUE?
M-Sport has several options as to who could fill its second Ford FiestaWRC alongside Jari-Matti Latvala next season (assuming Ford stays in theWRC)...
PETTER SOLBERG +Hasn’t lost motivation to try and win despite having gone nearly seven years without a victory -Won’t be happy if he has to play a supporting role to
Latvala when he’s only still driving to try and win the world title
OTT TÄNAK +Under a long-term M-Sport contract and is extremely quick on Tarmac and gravel -Has only contested one WRC event in a current world rally car and would be thrown in at the deep end with a works drive
MADS ØSTBERG +Has a full season in the Fiesta under his belt and has impressed with two podiums in his 2011 campaign -Hasn’t yet had a chance to get the experience of fighting for podiums week in, week out
NO-ONE + If Ford pulls out of the WRC, it may well be that a cashstrapped M-Sport puts all its efforts behind Latvala and a drivers’ title push. - If a private M-Sport team can only run one car full-time, then it has no chance of fighting for the manufacturers’ title
Solberg has shown that he still has the hunger in 2011
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 NA CHAMPIONSHIP POSITION
2 2 2
6 5 5 5
Solberg’s last WRC victory was inherited at Rally GB in 2005 when Sébastien Loeb took a time penalty in the wake of co-driver Michael Park’s death. Solberg himself counts his Rally Mexico victory six months earlier as his last win
Solber g’ s last win wa s in 2005
Car issues with Subaru
Solberg struggled as the factory Subarus became less and less competitive, and he finished behind team-mate Chris Atkinson in the Japanese firm’s last season before the marque’s shock withdrawal
Undeterred by his unemployment, Solberg quickly cobbled together his own privateer Citroën team in time to contest the 2009 season. Third place in the 2010 points and 13 podium finishes have been his reward
Har d times: Self-funded