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Solbergs lead Norway to Race of Champions triumph
By Iwan Jones
Sunday 29th January, 2023 - 12:30pm
Petter and Oliver Solberg have claimed a second consecutive Nations Cup victory for Norway in the 2023 Race of Champions.
The reigning Nations Cup winners were represented by father-and-son rally pairing who delivered a commanding performance against the All-Star line up of 2022 Formula 2 title winner Felipe Drugovich and five-time World Rally Championship runner-up in Belgian Thierry Neuville to secure victory on the snow and ice circuit in Pitea, Sweden.
In their run to the Final, Norway accounted for Team France’s four-time Race of Champions winner and nine-time WRC winner Sebastien Loeb and Touring Car World Cup competitor Adrien Tambay in the Quarter Final, before overcoming Team Sweden’s three-time Race of Champions winner Mattias Ekstrom and 2021 Extreme E title winner Johan Kristoffersson in the Semi Final.
The Solbergs claimed three heat victories in the Final to defeat Drugovich and Neuville, in retaining the Nations Cup title for Norway.
A 17-time WRC rally winner, Neuville defeated the elder Solberg in Heat 1, with the younger Solberg returning serve in Heat 2 by way of victory against Drugovich.
The two-time WRC title winner comfortably saw off Drugovich in Heat 3, before his son edged out his former Hyundai Motorsport team-mate to seal the title.
“It’s fantastic to win the ROC Nations Cup again, particularly to win the final heat against Thierry Neuville, my WRC team-mate last year,” Oliver Solberg said.
“I don’t tend to beat him very much so I’m very happy to beat him now.
“Congratulations to Team All Stars and Felipe did a fantastic job too.”
In claiming victory, Petter Solberg also revealed that he enjoyed defeating a former WRC rival of his.
“Everyone loves the Race Of Champions but I was nervous – the conditions change every run so it was easy to make a mistake,” he added
“You get butterflies in your stomach and you still have to go out and do what you do.
“Sebastien Loeb didn’t have a fair chance because of his late arrival, but to beat him was quite enjoyable.”
There were several notable results in this year’s tournament with the most successful nation in Race of Champions history Germany, represented by four-time Formula 1 World Drivers’ Champion Sebastian Vettel as well as 2020 Formula 2 title winner Mick Schumacher, defeated by the All Stars, while Finland’s Formula 1 line-up of 1998 and 1999 World Drivers’ Champion Mika Hakkinen and 10-time F1 Grand Prix winner Valtteri Bottas were ousted by eRace of Champion’s simracers Lucas Blakeley and Jarno Opmeer.
The Race of Champions itself will take place on Sunday, January 29 from 12:00 – 15:00 local time/22:00 AEDT on Sunday, January 29 to 01:00 AEDT on Monday, January 30.
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