Former world champion Petter Solberg almost had to pinch himself to make sure he wasn’t dreaming at the end of last weekend’s Cyprus Rally
He was on the podium, alongside rally winner Sebastien Loeb and second-placed Mikko Hirvonen, both works drivers; and he’d done it in his own privately-run car, a feat not achieved on a WRC event for 16 years.
Solberg had passed Loeb’s Citroen teammate, Dani Sordo, on Sunday to puts his privateer, 2006 model, Citroen Xsara WRC into third place.
“This is unbelievable,” said the Norwegian who has spent recewnt years struggling with a series of uncompetitive works Subarus and whose reputation had been eroded by the consequent poor results.
“I cannot describe the feeling I had when I was standing on the podium today,” he said on Sunday. “I mean, third place with a private team in a private car.”
Solberg won two stages on Saturday afternoon and started Sunday in fourth place, catching and passing Sordo on the day’s first special stage.
He’s the first privateer running his own car to take a WRC podium placing since Malcolm Wilson did it in 1993 (Wilson now runs the works Ford team).