How Solberg nearly outshone Formula One
Navigator Mills pays tribute to former driver and 2003 world champion
Co-driver Phil Mills, who partnered Petter Solberg in the FIA World Rally Championship for 11 years, reckons that the Norwegian’s charisma could have made the WRC even more popular than Formula One.
Mills was Solberg’s wingman when the duo became world champions with Subaru in 2003. He split from the Norwegian - who announced last week that he won’t take part in the WRC in 2013 - midway through the 2010 season and was replaced by Chris Patterson.
“A few years ago, somebody said that if there had been four Petter Solbergs in rallying, then Formula One would have shut down,” Mills told WRC.com. “At the time I just laughed, but now I actually completely agree with that. That’s how big his personality is. I think the sport will miss Petter an awful lot: more than people realise. He’s a huge character and there are not enough of them out there.”
Solberg and Mills contested 161 consecutive events together, one of the most enduring partnerships in the history of the WRC.
“It was a long time for us to be sitting four inches apart: we laughed together, cried together and nearly died together,” added Mills. “Aside from his fantastic driving talent, nobody was a better showman than Petter. He was brilliant with the fans and with end of stage interviews: just a fantastic ambassador for the whole sport. If I could do it all over again with him, I would.”
Despite no longer co-driving in the WRC, Welshman Mills is still involved in rallying, preparing historic Ford Escorts through his Viking Motorsport firm.
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