Archive: -: 2015

This is as good as it gets

The one question any athlete shouldn’t ask themselves is, ‘what if things were different?’

I’m in need of just five points to win the 2015 FIA World RX Championship title – Would I ask myself ‘What if I had done just a little better in one of the twelve races so far?’

No way! I did my very best in each and every one of them. Period!

I never ask myself ‘what if’.

Actually, I have enjoyed every day after the penultimate race in Italy in mid-October. I have been proud of being in a position where the advantage is pretty solid and the championship title will be decided in the final round.

We could have decided the title fight in Italy by winning the event.
But we didn’t.
End of story!
Last time out I managed to clinch the championship with two World RX races to go. For my first ever World title, in the 2003 WRC, I was one point behind (Loeb and Sainz) before the final round. With me winning in Wales and Loeb taking second place in that amazing event, I managed to win the title by one single point!

I predict an even closer FIA World RX Championship in 2016 – That’s exactly why I enjoy these days; ‘cause I probably will not experience the exact same thing ever again…

So this is probably as good as it gets!

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Compared to the 2003 WRC Championship, I’m in a totally different position before the 2016 (World RX) finale; I’m 26 points ahead of my closest rival (Timmy Hansen). Since there’s a maximum of 30 points to be given out during a World RX weekend, I would need to score 5 points to secure the title. That means I need to qualify for the semi-finals in Argentina!

In 24 FIA World RX races ever I have never missed out from a FIA World RX semi-finale!

No ‘what if’!

I am very well prepared ahead the final race of the season. My self-esteem is high after nine podium finishes from twelve races so far – my team is prepared – we will work in the exact same way as we always do at races; not thinking about results – only performance.

We refuse to wake up on the Monday after a race thinking that we should have done something different during the weekend.

That’s why there’s no ‘what ifs’ on our minds; we act when we need to act. Or it’s too late!

In my opinion athletes worry too much about things that cannot be changed. Thinking too much before an event is the whole reason for people being nervous!

Take a few seconds to think about that.

Everyone has been there before; thinking ‘what if I wasn’t that nervous before the start?’

I tell you this: If all preparations has been the best possible, then there’s nothing more to do and no reason at all to be nervous.

Sports is all about hard work, targets, winning and losing.

Sometimes you win, that should make you excited. And sometimes you lose, which should be indeed motivating.

Because losing is just a necessary obstacle on the road to victory!

Believe me; I know…

For your eyes only… My Bond-new plan

Bond. James Bond.
I love those three words.

Everybody, all around the world, knows about James Bond. He’s the good guy who gets the job done. Period.

But every now and then, Bond has to be a little bit bad. He has to get his hands dirty to get the job done. And that’s what makes him great, he can do the job the good way, the easy way, the hard way and the really, really tough way.

In the end, though, you just know that Bond’s going to come out of the chaos smiling. I’ve been watching a lot of Bond recently.

The PSRX engineers are even cleverer than Q, so the supercar’s ready for the best race since Bond tore through the Parisian streets in half a Renault 11. And, no matter how scary my competitors think they are, they’ve got nothing on May Day in a View to a Kill.

Yes, you’re right, Day won that particular battle, but Bond won the war.

Since the disappointment of our home race, M and I have been working on a plan to stop the others taking over the [FIA] World [Rallycross Championship].

As far as I’m concerned, The World is Not Enough anymore. I’m going to get my GoldenEye in and beat The Living Daylights out of the opposition.

I for sure will Never Say Never Again.

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Gloves off
Seriously, I’m taking the gloves off. I understand now that the rules of this game are a little bit different. A nudge here, a tap there is part of the game, so I’ve spent the last few weeks thinking about my game plan and it’s time to toughen up a little bit.

And now is the time to do it! I’m not going to look back in November and regret not doing anything. After being qualified for 18 straight FIA World RX finals, I missed out for the first time in Canada. When the same thing happened on home turf in Norway, we had to take things seriously. No doubt my competitors has changed; they are tougher driving vise than before. Now I’ll have to start defending myself!

I want my third FIA World Championship, I’m desperate for it and I now understand I’m going to have to fight for it. I’m ready for that fight; it’s time to show some teeth.

Being smart
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking Jaws from The Spy Who Loves Me or Moonraker, I’m talking about being smart! And, don’t forget, Bond always brings the best baddies around. May Day came around to his way of thinking and the lovely Sévérine certainly did.

So, there we are. We will take on the rest of the 2015 season with a new mindset. Five races is left of the season; 150 points to battle for. Every single one of them can be crucial. It’s about time to show what I’m made of – and to see what the others can take. It’s Live and Let Die!

We’ve been shaken and stirred into action here.

A real champion needs to be prepared for tougher times and capable of getting back on the right trail. Sports as in life in general is not easy to balance. Usually it’s just a matter of small adjustments.

Remember; You Only Live Twice!

On top of Success

Do not play with success! Once you begin to master something, win something, one will soon want to have more. And then even more, so much more. The trick is to take care of the success you have – to avoid taking on even more and finally too much.

Our start to the season has been rather unique. Two wins and two second places is pretty much more than one would expect in such an unpredictable sport that Rallycross is. We know the car is good enough and so is by far the team, but there are still so many unknown elements that have to come together to finish in the top two in the first four consecutive races.

Before the season, in early March, the whole team met to discuss the challenge ahead and the first four races of the coming season were devoted extra attention. Four races in four weeks requires a carefully thought out plan. There was certainly no room for mistakes either before, during or after the races, so naturally, our plan demanded the greatest degree of attention and accuracy:

* Avoid excessive damage to the RX car.

* All transfers, including the set-up and packing down, must be extremely effective.

* We must have clear back-up plans for all scenarios.

As it was said in the meeting: The first four races will form the basis for the entire rest of the season. It was clear to everyone in the team that we were facing four very demanding and arduous weeks after three months of hard work. Fortunately, I have a team that immediately understood what they had to do, and everyone was willing to do what was required – and then some!

After the four gruelling races in Portugal, Germany, Belgium and Great Britain, we were rewarded with 112 World RX points in total, 29 points more than our closest challenger.

It’s almost too good to be true.

All due to my unique team and sponsors. We have done it without any manufacturer support like our main competitors have!

Just before my victory at Lydden Hill (Great Britain), I faced a difficult choice. My team was given a very valuable invitation to the X Games in Austin, Texas and we had to quickly decide whether to attend.

Who does not dream of a gold medal in the X Games? I for sure wouldn’t mind…

But even if the will and desire to win was strong as it could be, our common sense won the struggle. The 2015 FIA World RX Championship has our full attention, it is something we have worked on for the last 200 days or so. Our resources are limited to 13 World Cup races,meaning it would have been a big risk to our World RX plan to do a race in the United States if something had happened to the car.

Instead, we kept to our plan with two very important test days in Höljes, Sweden. Those tests lay the foundation for the car’s capacity and performance for the rest of the World RX season.

Let there be no secret that I’m extremely satisfied with what came out of the last four weeks.

Now it’s time to focus on races in Germany and Sweden before all the equipment is to be sent to Canada. Three hectic weeks lay ahead of us before we can treat ourselves to a small summer vacation.

Preparations in recent weeks have been close to optimal. We are ready and are enormously looking forward to embarking on new adventures in the FIA World RX Championship.

One must work hard to achieve success. The whole team has worked long hours and late evenings. It remains to be seen if our priorities that led us to Höljes over Austin have been right.

The team and I think and hope so.

The answer we all get this weekend!

What you don’t get to do today, you can only regret tomorrow

Less than one month remain until I start a World title defence for the second time in my career. The only thing I am quite sure of before the season starts is that the key to success lies in our preparations. Whoever is best prepared for the whole upcoming season will be the 2015 World Rallycross Champion!

It’s not just about sporting preparations and having the best car, but it’s also about the preparations that will optimize the working conditions of all my team members. Among other things, one of the priority tasks throughout winter has been the organization of our race service tent and the workshop in Torsby together with my sponsor Teng Tools.

For several months we have worked intensely together with Teng Tools’ concept developers in Taiwan and Sweden to optimize our race service area that my team bring on the trailer and in containers to all the World RX races. Although we took the first ever World title in rallycross after five race wins and a total of nine podium finishes last year, there is a great potential for improvement.

What we did in 2014 isn’t good enough for the World title in 2015.

PStrophee

Defending a title is one of the hardest challenges in the world of sports. To copy the previous season will not do. When we had won the title last September with two races to go, we immediately sat down and planned for 2015. We concluded that preparations are the key factor and among the most important elements we recognised, we noticed we could improve on the reorganization of the race service tent. The new layout that Teng Tools and my team is developing together is not only “the best ever” to look at; it also will become super efficient. I am convinced that we will now be better equipped in that area than any other World RX team.

Our service space inside the 200 square meter tent is the base for the team out on the run. That’s where we perform all the final preparations with the car before races and make sure that we have a winning car available for every heat in the World RX (total of 78). Four mechanics have at minimum 20 minutes working time to make the car as good as new between heats.

Our greatest strength in 2014 was the extent of service on the car in between heats. My guys were able to remove key components between each heat to assure us that everything was in order. For me it is psychologically immensely important to know for sure that everything works and that all possible uncertainties and doubts are removed. I have the world’s best rallycross mechanics in my team, and when they get everything arranged for themselves to do the best possible job, I have a hard time believing that we will be overturned on that area.

Every conceivable shortcuts to a fast, efficient and reliable service for my World RX car must be facilitated – 78 times. The accuracy of the service park and among my mechanics is one of several important elements in our plan for 2015.

My own preparations before and during races are also optimized. Without revealing any details, I can say that we evaluate extensive data figures from each VM circuit. We are strong on analysis which also brings assertiveness into the team. We won last year partly through being smart and this year we will be even smarter and more calculated.

Every employee and hired team member has dedicated work at the circuit. And for each one, the goal is to be even better than last time in their specific job. We focus a lot on interaction between team members. Winning culture in the team is a very important detail on the way towards success.

I myself have handpicked every team member, and the main characteristics I’ve looked for is the ability to interact and being positive in the group. A team is no better than its weakest link. I have been part of huge factory teams in rallying where the budgets and the number of employees was almost unreal, but when all is said and done it’s the sum of our common will to win that creates success.

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Beside massive organizational and sponsorship work, I have prepared myself for the season just as «normal». For the third consecutive year, my wife Pernilla and I won the Rally Sweden Historic in our Ford Escort MkII. Three weeks before that I took my son, Oliver out in the Finnskogsvalsen rally. In total that means nearly 300 k’s with full speed training.

It’s not possible to practice with the rallycross car because of both economic and practical reasons. The custom-built 600-horsepower car is rarely screwed together outside the World RX races, and it is always evolving. Therefore I use every opportunity to run other cars and train in other disciplines. Even karting, ATV and snowmobiling is good training for a driver that wants to be the best. In addition, I think it’s the funniest activity ever to run fast by car.

In my eyes it’s a success formula to every athlete to reach the top: Train more than any other on what you should become good at!

We will continue driving in World Rallycross Championship with the same car as last year, but in anevolved condition. The car was transported straight from the season ending in Argentina and brought home to two of my mechanics in England to undergo the most extensive changes before the 2015 season. In the past couple of months and weeks my team has been working Flat Out. The preparations is key to 2015 World RX. I know it and my team knows it.

The season start in World RX is taking place in the Portuguese town of Montalegre April 25-26.

Early start in the Solberg family

One of my most important experiences within motorsport was to sit beside Colin McRae and Tommi Mäkinen in a rally car when I was still young and inexperienced.

To see and feel the level of the world’s best athletes of my sport was crucial to how I further staked out my own course towards the top. I fussed a lot to make it happen, and I have never regretted it for one second – although I hate to ride along with others in a car.

For more than a year, my now 13 year old son has nagged me to have the chance to co-drive for me in my rally car. In the local winter rally Finnskogsvalsen in Sweden, I was able to fulfil Oliver’s desire. Two days of father and son time in our historic Ford Escort MkII was a wonderful experience for both of us!

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I was only six years old when I drove a car for the first time on my own. It was not legal of course, but at the end of the 1970s and in the middle of nowhere back home in Spydeberg, they were different times.

Oliver started with karting at an early age and has been driving cars for as long as he can remember. In 2014 he won three titles and nine individual victories in his crosskart. His dream is to become a rally and rallycross driver – and to beat me! One of the secrets to manage that is to see, feel and experience how I’m driving.

Being a co-driver in rally is one of the toughest jobs I can imagine. You need a full overview, manage timing, find rhythm and you must be confident and determined as well as being careful, precise and very concentrated. The co-driver tells me about how the road looks ahead, determines speed, track selection and which focus I should have on every metre of a stage; the co-driver is the driver’s extended vision.

Only the most skilled co-driver is able to lead the best driver into victories at the top level. I have worked with some of the best ones in the world; Phil Mills, Cato Menkerud and Chris Patterson are among them.Oliver had never before read notes in the car. Just four months ago he was old enough to get permission to sit in the rally in accordance with Swedish rules.

I was very excited about how he would solve the role. Result wise it was unimportant, but we were supposed to enjoy ourselves and enjoy the ride together, and then it’s nice to be satisfied with ourselves as well.

A short instruction of mom Pernilla before the start was everything Oliver wanted to prepare. From the crosskart driving he has learned how to focus and concentrate; that skill was important here.
We flew off the start-line on the first stage, and Oliver went aggressively to work with the notes.Shortly after he asked abruptly: “How am I doing Dad? Is it ok?”

Not exactly by the book in full drift on the white winter roads and with the next turn just a few meters away.

“Yes son – it’s awesome… Just read the notes!” I replied.

We finished the stage with a ok time. Oliver was very pleased and proud – and I was equally proud. We had a very nice time together in the car, and I’m quite sure it was a great learning weekend for Oliver as well. The co-operation was getting better for each stage and towards the end of the 130 km long rally on snow and ice, we gained a lot of time against the two leaders. We were quickest in our class at the last stage, and we were only 8 seconds from second place overall.

Our aim for the top three in class and top ten overall in Finnskogsvalsen was reached!

Spending time with your children is the best there is. In an otherwise busy life for both parties it is a memorable experience that provides an extra dimension in the relationship between parents and children. Last summer Oliver and I took a road trip together in Sweden with our motorhome and we both enjoyed the country road and each other’s company to the fullest. We are often out riding ATV, snow mobiles and ice driving, and we spend time fishing and several other out-door activities together.

While I will try to defend my World title in rallycross this year, Oliver will also attempt to defend three titles in crosskarts; the Northern European, Swedish and Norwegian championships.

We will have to enjoy the separate competitions while it lasts. In about 5-6 years we may just as well compete for the same trophies…


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