Interview: Henning Solberg
- 14th March 2007, 11:26am
Henning, thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. Firstly, congratulations on your great result in your home event, Rally Norway. Is this the start of something big for Henning Solberg?
Well, we will see. We had pace last year but no consistency so this year my goal is to take a more cautious approach and see what we can do with it. I want to try and score some points and so far it’s going ok.
Whilst your younger brother, Petter, has been a works driver for a number of years now, and was 2003 World Rally Champion, your WRC career has taken a little longer to establish. Has it been difficult watching Petter enjoy so much success?
No no. I really enjoyed watching him succeed. It’s great when one of your family does well, especially your own brother. I think if anything though, it has made me want to goes faster, obviously I want to win also!
How difficult is it having your brother competing against you for an opposition team?
It’s OK. We were always competitive at a young age so it’s not real different now. I just go flat out and hopefully beat him. It is looking good so far!
Your parents must be extremely proud to have both their sons competing in the World Rally Championship. Do they come to many events to watch you?
Yes, I think they are very proud of both me and Petter. They have only been to some events but it was nice to finally have the rally come to Norway this year. They had a great time and luckily I was able to get on the podium for them.
How did your interest in motorsport start? I believe you were involved in rallycross for many years.
Yes, I started doing Bilcross in Norway (similar to rallycross) then tried Rallycross and in 1993 I was Norwegian Rallycross Champion. In 1994 I won the Nordic Hillclimb and the Rallycross Championship again.
You’ve had terrific success in Norway, winning the National Rally Championship five years in a row (1999 – 2003). How have these victories prepared you for the events you contest now?
Yes, it was nice to win five for sure but Norway is a lot different to the WRC and it only really helped me for Rally Norway. Snow driving is a different world compared to gravel, I can tell you that!
Cato first joined you as co-driver back in 2001. How did you meet Cato, and why do you think your partnership works so well?
I did my first rally with Cato in a Corolla WRC at Finland in 2001. He is an amazing co-driver with massive experience and is great to have him in the car with me. He actually once navigated for Petter in 1998 at Rally GB.
You’ve shared some interesting rally experiences together. Rally Sweden 2006, when your car filled up with snow, and Rally Australia 2006, when you had a big roll, come to mind. How do you deal with the disappointments in rallying?
It is not nice to make mistakes but this year I want to try a different approach. It was a silly mistake in Mexico last week, one that I will not make in Portugal, I can tell you that.
Another interesting time must have been when you drove a Mitsubishi Lancer in a head-to-head race against the Norwegian Bobsleigh Team at Lillehammer, for the BBC show Top Gear! How did you enjoy that experience?
That was really fun. The bobsleigh track is amazing and what those guys do is just crazy!
Obviously fitness is very important to a professional driver and co-driver. How do you stay fit?
I have been doing a lot of jogging over the break and trying to eat the right foods. It is a massive advantage when you are fit, especially when the rallies are quite hot.
You recently joined Daniel Carlsson and Manfred Stohl as part of the World Rally Against Drink Driving (WRADD) campaign. Is this a cause that you feel very strongly about?
I think what Daniel is doing is great because it is a problem, and I know in Norway the numbers in drink driving offences is much too big. It’s OK to have a drink and celebrate but some small amount of people are being silly by driving their cars home afterwards. Hopefully the campaign will make people more aware of the danger and bring numbers down.
What is it that you love most about rallying?
I love to go fast and love to go sideways!
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