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Rallying returned to Europe on Sunday, as young gun Oliver Solberg won Rally Sweden Lockdown by defeating his cousin, Pontus Tidemand, in a two-leg final at Torsby. Eighteen-year-old Solberg, who was co-driven by his mother Pernilla, outgunned Tidemand in both final runs over the 2.50km Torsby Sprint speed stage, made famous by the country’s FIA World Rally Championship fixture. Driving a Volkswagen Polo GTI, Solberg opened a 0.8sec advantage in the first leg of the final on wet gravel roads. He added an extra three-tenths to his lead in the second run to win the made-for-TV special by 1.1sec. It was the first top-class rally since Covid-19 shut down global sport and the knockout event, which was screened by Swedish broadcaster SVT, was closed to fans and held under tight health restrictions.

Oliver Solberg took victory in Rally Sweden Lockdown, held near his home in Torsby.

“It was great fun. The road was pretty rough in the end and that was tricky because we were having to push hard to stay ahead of Pontus,” admitted Solberg. “It was a really tight fight at the end but to win is something special for me and my mum. It’s been a long time out of the car and I want to say a very big thanks to everybody who made this happen. They have done an amazing job.”   The invitation-only rally attracted some of the biggest names in Swedish motorsport and Solberg topped the times in qualifying. As rain began to fall, he beat 2016 world rallycross champion Mattias Ekström in the semi-final before victory over Tidemand’s Skoda Fabia. Tidemand, a double world champion in WRC support series, knocked out 2018 FIA Junior WRC champion Emil Bergkvist in the semi-final. Bergkvist had earlier set the second fastest time in qualifying, just a tenth slower than Solberg. He beat Ekström to win the B final.   The challenge from double junior world champion P-G Andersson came to an early end when he rolled his Ford Fiesta in qualifying and retired. Rally Sweden Lockdown director Glenn Olsson said the sprint nature of the event would provide excitement and close competition. “Like all other sport across the world, rallying has been forced to stop since March because of the Coronavirus. Today we fired up the engines again and were treated to thrilling action in conditions that became increasingly tricky as the roads became wet and muddy. “Congratulations to Oliver and Pernilla. Pontus made them work really hard for their success with the outcome going right down to the very final run of the day,” added Olsson. WRC Promoter will produce a one-hour highlights programme for global broadcast (check local listings) which will also be available on WRC+ (www.wrc.com) on Monday night (CEST).
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