SOL­BERG: ES­CAPE MY GREAT­EST

Dou­ble World Ral­ly­cross cham­pion walks away from mon­ster ac­ci­dent

Motor Sport News - - Headline News - By Hal Ridge

Dou­ble World Ral­ly­cross cham­pion Pet­ter Sol­berg says his ac­ci­dent at the sev­enth round at TroisRivieres in Canada last week­end was the big­gest of his mo­tor­sport ca­reer.

The 2003 World Rally cham­pion fin­ished fifth in the sev­enth round of the World Ral­ly­cross Cham­pi­onship, but was hit vi­o­lently af­ter the fin­ish line of the fi­nal when ri­val An­ton Mark­lund’s Volk­swa­gen Polo be­hind suf­fered front brake fail­ure, the Swede’s car ca­reer­ing into the back of Sol­berg’s Citroen DS 3 Su­per­car.

Sol­berg, who was suf­fer­ing from back pains, was taken to a nearby hos­pi­tal for pre­cau­tion­ary checks fol­low­ing the ac­ci­dent but re­turned to the pad­dock sev­eral hours later. He said he was lucky to es­cape se­ri­ous in­jury.

“I must say I think that is the worst ac­ci­dent of my ca­reer,” said the Nor­we­gian. “In ral­ly­ing usu­ally the mo­men­tum of an ac­ci­dent takes the force out of it a bit, but this was just a huge stop. The data shows that Mark­lund hit me from be­hind do­ing around 90mph and I was trav­el­ling at about 20mph. It was all af­ter the fin­ish line. I could see [event win­ner, Timmy] Hansen cel­e­brat­ing so I slowed down and then there was a huge im­pact.”

Sec­ond time lucky

Sol­berg said that the ac­ci­dent was more vi­o­lent than the huge 2004 shunt he had on Rally Ger­many when he and co-driver Phil Mills were lucky to walk away from a high-speed ac­ci­dent that wrecked their Pro­drive Subaru Im­preza.

“This ac­ci­dent was much worse than in 2004,” said Sol­berg. “It took me at least five min­utes to get the feel­ing back in my legs

and feel strong enough to get out of the car. I’m okay, but just very, very sore.”

Sol­berg’s 2004 Rally Ger­many ac­ci­dent hap­pened when he ran wide over a crest in damp con­di­tions on the Baumholder stage of the Tar­mac event and hit a tank-stop­ping Hinkel­stein, which launched the car into a se­ries of rolls.

Sol­berg’s Citroen DS 3 Su­per­car was heav­ily dam­aged. The PSRX team had to air­freight the car di­rectly back to its base in Torsby in Swe­den, with a race against time to get it pre­pared for the next World RX round in Lo­heac in just four weeks time.

“The car is in a mas­sively bad con­di­tion now and my team has a huge job to get it ready for France,” said Sol­berg. “It’s such a shame for ev­ery­body, but now we have to work like hell to make the start in Lo­heac next month ( see side­bar).”

Points fin­ish

Sol­berg could only man­age fifth place in the fi­nal in Canada, but re­claimed the cham­pi­onship lead by four points as ti­tle-ri­val Mat­tias Ek­strom re­tired from the semi-fi­nal stages of the event with a punc­ture.

Sol­berg re­ceived well wishes from across the World RX pad­dock fol­low­ing the ac­ci­dent.

Ek­strom’s EKS team wrote: “We wish Pet­ter a speedy re­cov­ery. Get well soon. See you in France!”

Jo­han Kristof­fer­son, who fin­ished on the podium but lost out to Sol­berg in the semi­fi­nal said; “In the semi-fi­nal Pet­ter was out­stand­ing, he was just so, so quick. It’s never nice to see an­other driver get hurt so I hope he is okay and that he is back soon.”

The Cana­dian event was won by Team Peu­geot-hansen driver, Timmy Hansen.

Sol­berg: un­hurt in col­li­sion

Sol­berg’s 2004 Rally Ger­many shunt was huge

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