Rally News

Inside the mind of the WRC’s “Hollywood” showman

Solberg's crowning glory came in 2003 when he won the world title for Subaru

Simply known as “Mr Hollywood” during his World Rally Championship pomp, Petter Solberg has always been a showman powered by an abundance of energy and a drive to achieve – whatever the challenge. These attributes, in addition to his skill behind the wheel, combined to help the Norwegian win the ultimate prize in rallying, the WRC title, in 2003 and secure back-to-back world rallycross titles run by his own team in 2014-2015.

But there have been hidden challenges too for the driver whose swashbuckling exploits driving a factory Subaru Impreza culminated in beating Sebastien Loeb to that famous breakthrough world title alongside Phil Mills in Wales more than two decades ago.

Few drivers have lit up the WRC scene in the way Solberg did. He always kept up his heart-on-sleeve approach that earned himlegions of fans throughout a WRC career that took off when he secured his first works contract with M-Sport Ford in 1999. They followed and – as a social media presence equivalent to, if not larger than the current WRC stars attests – continue to follow today a life described by his peers as “full action all of the time”.

“I have fun every day and try to enjoy every day,” explains Solberg during a candid interview about his career on the latest episode of Autosport’s Gravel Notes Podcast. “I have seen over the years that having a character is not always positive sometimes.

“For myself, and when you have your own team, it is positive. But from other points of view, people can be intimidated. But you are the person you are when you are doing what you do. I’m pushing and it is not for everyone, for sure, but it has normally shown good success.

“When I commit to something and there is a deadline, the deadline will be reached whatever it takes, and you have to push the limit.”

Solberg’s crowning glory came in 2003 when he won the world title for Subaru

Photo by: Ralph Hardwick

To succeed at the highest level of any sport requires pushing to the limit, which seems to fit perfectly with Solberg’s persona and lifestyle. But when asked to reveal the coolest aspect of his life, the 49-year-old offers a rare insight into the challenges he’s faced competing in a discipline that counts on zen-like concentration.

Solberg says that unbeknownst to him at the time, he suffered from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). While this could be seen as a disadvantage by some, the stats bear out that he’s harnessed it successfully. A…

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