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Former World Rally Champion Petter Solberg will bring a smile to the face of every fan when he starts this week’s Rally Sweden Historic in his Ford Escort Mk2.
Solberg’s Swedish outing is expected to be his only rally of the season as the man they call Hollywood prepares for his return to RallyCross. Petter announced last week that he will contest the four 2013 X Games events in a sensational 600bhp Citroen.
Before taking to the circuit, however, there will be one more run in the snow this week.
Solberg, who will be co-driven by his wife Pernilla, says his sole aim is to be as sideways – and as quick – as possible through some of the best stages in the world on what will be his only WRC outing of the 2013 season.
The Norwegian superstar is driving an Escort built by the man who won the world title alongside him in 2003, Phil Mills. Mills’ firm Viking Motorsport has rapidly developed a reputation for being among the world’s finest builders of historic-specification rally cars. Petter drove the Escort for the first time on the Finnskogsvalsen Rally last month and knew immediately that he had to be in Sweden.
“Pernilla and I wouldn’t miss Rally Sweden for anything,” said Petter. “I know what it’s like for the fans in Sweden, they are standing out in the temperatures like minus 20 or something like that – and we want to give them a drive which will warm them up and make them smile. We will be full sideways and we will be having so much fun. This car is fantastic, Phil has done an amazing job. It looks fantastic, but it sounds… just unbelievable. I’m going to be enjoying myself on the inside and I want to make sure everybody having the same feeling on the outside!
“After this, my year gets more serious with the RallyCross projects and some other work I am doing, but in Sweden it’s all about making people smile. You can tell them all, Hollywood is back in town. Once we have done this rally, then we are really working flat-out to get the RallyCross cars ready for the first event – I am so excited about this season!”
Rally Sweden Historic starts with exhibition driving in Karlstad on Thursday February 7, before a run through the Vargasen test and the superspecial at Farjestadstravet on Friday. The main competition for the Historic event runs on Saturday, when Petter and Pernilla will race the Escort through two loops of Sagen, Frederiksberg, Rammen and Hagfors Sprint – starting each of the stages after the main WRC field has passed through. The Historic event comprises 84 competitive kilometres and finishes on the evening of Saturday February 9.
Solberg is no stranger to the Swedish fans. He has competed on this event 13 times – it was the first round of the World Rally Championship he ever drove on, back in 1998. He has finished on the podium in Sweden three times and, of course, took a two-minute win on Rally Sweden in 2005.
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