2003 World Rally Champion Petter Solberg will test a Ford Fiesta RS WRC for the first time this week with a view to joining the official factory team in 2012.
According to Autosport.com, Solberg outlined his plans during Rally GB last month and the details of the test were further discussed with Ford team Principal Malcolm Wilson in London in recent days.
Solberg and the Ford team will test close to the base for next year’s season opener, the Monte Carlo Rally, in Valence.
Despite having not driven for the Ford factory squad since 2000, the Norwegian is the obvious choice to replace Mikko Hirvonen who has moved camps to Citroen alongside defending eight-time World Champion Sebastien Loeb.
A source within Ford said: “Petter is still a very fast driver and a driver capable of becoming a world champion again. The test makes a lot of sense for us all, it’ll be good to see him back in one of our cars again and interesting to see what he can do. Beyond that, nothing much more has been discussed.”
Providing the test goes to plan, the details of Solberg’s return to the Ford team will be discussed over the weekend.
Ford has not officially committed to the 2012 WRC but an announcement is scheduled for Monday next week, the closing date for manufacturer entries for next year’s championship.
Solberg was unavailable for comment on the test, but talking about a potential Ford return last month, he said: “I think Jari-Matti [Latvala] and I could make a very strong team, a really strong team for next year.
“There’s no doubt that Jari has the potential to be a world champion and I want to help do what I can for the team. I have been the privateer for three years and now I really want to go back to the factory car. I know what I am capable of still and it would be fantastic to go back with Malcolm again.”
Latvala is testing the Fiesta this week, but his seat time ended prematurely yesterday when he slid off the road. The car was undamaged.