HOLLYWOOD LEGEND STARS IN WALES
- Petter Solberg to be Wales Rally GB’s official ‘Rally Legend’ for 2015
- Four-time Rally GB winner honoured a decade after his last win
- Two-time World Champion remains a massive fans’ favourite
- “Wales is my second home,” says the Scandinavian superstar
Wales Rally GB is delighted to announce that motor sport superstar
Petter Solberg will be the official ‘Rally Legend’ at this year’s
concluding round of the FIA World Rally Championship (12-15 November).
The annual ‘Rally Legend’ tribute was introduced in 2014 to celebrate the outstanding achievements of a past hero. Ari Vatanen was the first to be honoured and now the flamboyant Solberg – always a massive favourite with the fans – will be the second.
The 40-year-old Norwegian – nicknamed ‘Hollywood’ – is one of only two drivers to have won Rally GB four times (2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005). What’s more, he’s the only man to have won FIA World Championship titles in two different motor sport disciplines. Solberg won the FIA World Rally Championship crown in 2003 and last year became the inaugural FIA World Rallycross Champion – a series he leads again in 2015.
“It’s a real honour to be invited to be the Rally Legend for Wales Rally GB,” enthused Petter who will be in Wales during the forthcoming WRC event. “As many already know, this is an event which is very close to my heart for so many reasons. Rally GB was the first round of the World Rally Championship I ever won [in 2002] and I can never forget that feeling. I thought the feeling couldn’t be beaten. But it was, twelve months later, when I came back to Wales and won the World Rally Championship – now that was a party!
“Obviously, every driver wants to achieve these kinds of goals at their home event, if possible. That wasn’t possible, but Wales was like a second home event for me; if it couldn’t be Norway then I was so happy it was in Wales. My co-driver, Phil Mills, is of course from Wales and it was fantastic to feel the support and the passion from so many fans.”
Although Solberg and Mills in their iconic blue Subaru Impreza dominated the then Cardiff-based event between 2002 and 2005, the task was never easy and, sadly, their final victory was tainted by tragedy.
“Wales is a hell of a tough country to rally in: the roads are incredible, some of the best stages in the world, but all the time the grip is changing and everything has to be absolutely perfect to win,” admitted Petter. “I managed to win this event four times, but of course the last one doesn’t really count. Ten years ago, we saw the tragedy in our sport, when our friend ‘Beef’ (Michael Park, co-driver to Markko Martin) lost his life on that rally. I don’t count that one.”
A decade on Solberg’s thoughts will still be with Park as he returns to Wales in November… and also with one of the sport’s other much-missed superheroes.
“Another reason I’m so pleased to be asked to be a Rally Legend this year is because it’s 20 years since Colin McRae won this rally to win his World Championship. Colin was an incredible guy, a real superhero of our sport. I remember sitting with him when I joined the Ford team. I couldn’t believe a car could be driven like that, especially not by a man who was so down-to-earth and normal as Colin.
“I was lucky enough to get to know Colin really well. And being associated with an event which has such memories of this man is a big, big moment for me. We have seen Wales Rally GB coming through some tough times in recent years, but there’s no doubt now that it is back to its best. This is a rally worthy of the name and definitely worthy of its place as one of the sport’s greats.”
“Petter is the perfect choice to join the great Ari Vatanen in what is our very own ‘hall of fame’,” said Ben Taylor, Wales Rally GB managing director. “Ever the extrovert, he has always had a massive following with UK fans, especially with Phil alongside him, and he has won this rally more times than anyone else. He has all the right iconic credentials to be our second official ‘Rally Legend’ and we are thrilled that he has agreed to join us in November.”
Wales Rally GB tickets are on sale now, with many advanced prices reduced from last year.
The four-day World Rally Pass is the all-inclusive ticket for fans. It provides access to all the individual Special Stages as well as Thursday’s pre-event Shakedown. It is priced at £99 for adults (or just £1 for accompanied children aged 9-15) and comes with a desirable hard card and lanyard plus an event programme valued at £9.
Forest Passes offer a similar level of flexibility as the World Rally Pass but just for an individual day of the event. Again they include an official programme and can be purchased in advance for just £25 – a considerable saving on Single Stage tickets which will cost £30 on the day. Tickets for the family friendly RallyFest at Chirk Castle are available now for £25 with an even greater discount being offered to families. Full ticket information can be found on the WalesRallyGB.com website.
Full information can be found online via the ‘competitors’ navigation on the official www.walesrallygb.com website.