Petter Solberg viste hvem som er eldst og best da han avgjorde far/sønn-duellen mot Oliver i Gymkhana GRiD-finalen i Warszawa i sin favør på lørdag.
Petter i sin VW Plo WRX og Oliver i Citroën DS3 WRX slo ut konkurrent etter konkurrent, slik at til slutt ble det en ren Solberg-finale foran det store publikummet i den polske hovedstaden.
Det er to baner som kjøres i hvert oppgjør, og semifinalene var Oliver raskere enn Petter i den «hvite» banen, men i finalen tro Petter til med tiden 1.25.932 mot Olivers 1.27.095. I den «grønne» banen var Petter best i alle sine oppgjør og finalen noterte han 1.25.635 mot Olivers 1.26.975. Dermed fikk Petter totaltiden 2.51.567 mot Olivers 2.54.070. Det var tydelig at Petter satset maksimalt i finalen, for han var aldri under 2.54 i noen av sine andre oppgjør.
I klassen for bakhjulsdrevne biler kvalifiserte ikke Andreas Bakkerud seg, men drifting-føreren Christian Bakkerud kom seg helt til 1/8 finale. Han vant sin 1/16 finale med tiden 3.18.145 i sin Nissan Cefiro. I 1/8 finalen var det imidlertrid slutt da han møtte selve vinneren til slutt, Mantoas Siogeris i en Mazda RX5. Bakkerud fikk tiden 3.17.082 mot Siogeris sine 3.10.644. I finalen vant Siogeris på 3.08.809.
PRESSEMELDING FRA PETTER SOLBERG:
Solbergs dominate Gymkhana GRiD
* Petter edges Oliver in all-Solberg Gymkhana GRiD final
* Solbergs congratulate KB and Monster Energy on a special party
* Petter: “It’s you, your engine and your handbrake. You dance together.”
* Oliver: “Every teenager wants to come to a car park and get on the handbrake.”
This family feud had been coming since Wednesday. Ever since Petter and Oliver took to the track and discovered they were comfortably quicker than anybody else, Gymkhana GRiD 2019 became an all-Solberg family affair.
Just ahead of the event, Oliver got the best news possible when he was offered the GRiD equivalent of going from Business to First Class for his travel around the track… he was handed the DS 3 Supercar instead of the Citroën Xsara WRC which had been planned ahead of the event.
A knife for a knife fight; the 1200bhp coming out of the Solberg corner would be divided pretty much equally between Petter’s Volkswagen Polo R Supercar and Oliver’s DS 3. Petter had the edge on the way up the hill at Goodwood [at July’s Festival of Speed], now it was Oliver’s turn to take revenge.
And that was the plan. Until Papa Solberg reminded Junior why he was a three-time world champion. Petter turned in a superb display to deliver yet another highlight of his stunning Farewell Tour.
Petter said: “You know how important the show is for me, I love to entertain the fans. But when the helmet is coming on, things get serious and that was today… serious business. But fantastic racing with Oliver, to be here in the final racing against my son is something special.
“And so was Gymkhana GRiD. Like every year, this have been one of the highlights of the season. I love this competition and the intensity it brings.
“As a rally driver, when you are in a really long stage it’s possible to get away with running a bit wide in one corner or braking too late for one junction; in rallycross, you are not alone and anything can happen in any corner.
“In Gymkhana, it’s you, your engine and your handbrake and you have to make the dance together. The focus is so much, you cannot make one mistake at all; every corner has to be perfect, every corner has to be right to the millimetre and then away. I like that. This event demands a lot from the driver.
“I take my hat off to Ken [Block] and to Monster Energy – between them they make an amazing show and such an incredible party. We brought sponsors here, guys from Castrol and HTB Racing and they had such a good time – it’s a real party atmosphere.
“This Farewell Tour is getting better and better. Maybe I should do another one next year!”
Oliver added: “He was too quick for me. I tried so hard. In the second race, I pushed and pushed everything; braking so late and going so deep into the donuts. Next time. For sure next time!
“But this event is so cool! You know, everything I do right now is completely looking to my future in rallying – that sport is what I dreamed of for as long as I can remember. I’m fortunate to be doing some amazing rallies in amazing cars and I absolutely love it…
“… But every now and then it’s super-cool to come to a car park and get on the handbrake – show me a teenage boy who doesn’t love doing that!
“I’ve had the best time here in Warsaw, an amazing place with so many brilliant fans. The competition was big with my Dad and pushing hard to beat him really made the atmosphere so special for me here. It’s fantastic to come to such a well-organised event that’s also so relaxed; to have to time to walk around the paddock and talk to people.
Circles done, Oliver’s back on a plane heading west in a day or two. It’s STPR time, back to the American Rally Association and back to the Subaru WRX STI.
No wonder he’s smiling.