At the Latvian round of the World RX championship last year, Petter Solber was involved in a semi-final collision with Jānis Baumanis. Petter broke two ribs and his collarbone. He was taken and treated in hospital in Riga.
Petter made an exceptional recovery and was cleared to race just 13 days after the crash at World RX of Germany. He rose to one of the biggest physical challenges of his career and, after top qualifying and winning his semi-final at Buxtehude, just missed a podium in the final and finished fourth.
The comeback was astonishing. But, unbeknown to the triple FIA World Champion, the road to recovery had only just begun because of an underlying condition. Petter’s still on that road.
For the first time, Petter's ready to talk about that road and the fight he’s faced in the last 12 months.
“I think everybody knows I’m somebody who has always had a lot of energy. I know myself that I just can’t keep still, I always have to be busy and doing something,"Petter Solberg, PSRX Volkswagen Sweden team owner/driver and triple FIA world champion.
“A while ago, that changed and I started to feel really tired. Looking back, it was getting worse, but I didn’t really notice it so much. Then I had the accident this time last year in Riga. The broken bones were tough and racing in Germany was hard, but actually I have a lot to thank that accident for; the x-rays showed there was a problem with one of my lungs. There’s a very long name for the condition, but basically I was producing too much iron.
“Fortunately, the doctors spotted this and, after a lot of tests, they put me on a course of medication to sort this out. It took quite a long time to get the dosage right and during that time, it’s been tough. I’ve noticed some changes with my eyes, my face and I started shaking.
“I won’t lie to you, it was really quite a scary time. I didn’t know what was happening or why it was happening. During the racing, the adrenalin would start and this always lifted me up to compete. But after the races, I was really, really tired. After the official test [in France] where I drove for one day, I flew straight home to hospital – I was pretty sick for a while.
“We had to start thinking about somebody else coming in to take my place in the team. If this carried on, I knew myself that I couldn’t do it. This was not a good time for me.
Petter Solberg needed some serious patching up before a heroic effort in Germany last year.
“After the race in Sweden, things changed and I started to feel better. And, since then, things have been getting better. I can feel myself that I’m coming back now, the energy is coming again and everything is coming more normal again. We’re on top of this now.
“You know me, you know I have always been straight and honest with everything I have done and that’s why I wanted to talk about this. I understand you can look at me and things don’t look quite right. I haven’t been myself; I haven’t done so much in the media, on the television and with the fans and that hurts me. I have always loved to meet the people and talk to them and not being able to do that has been really hard.
“Believe me, I am coming back now. There’s another month or so on this medication, then we have some more checks, but the doctors are happy with the way we’re going now and so am I.
“I have to take this chance to say a very, very big thank you to my family, to Pernilla and Oliver, to Johan and everybody in the team and, of course, to everybody at Volkswagen Motorsport – they have helped so much with so much support through this recovery."
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