The WRC rookie, contesting his first outing as a full-fledged Hyundai works driver, has been struggling with a fuel fume issue with his new Rally1 i20 N which first appeared on Friday.
Solberg revealed that the exhaust fumes entering the cockpit made him dizzy and had chest pains, but he kept fighting.
Hyundai team assistant manager Julien Moncet confirmed to Mmotorsport.com on Friday night that the issue only relates to Solberg’s car, that it will be investigated and a solution sought.
However, on Saturday morning, Solberg reported that fumes were still entering the cockpit during the first leg of the loop.
During the next test, Solberg and his co-driver Elliott Edmondson went off the road. Solberg believes the fume issue contributed to him losing focus and misjudging a right-hander.
As a result, the i20 N raced to shore, but luckily the crew escaped unscathed with only cosmetic damage to the front of the car.
“We are very lucky to be back and I’m very happy,” Solberg said on social media after reaching the tire fitting area.
“It was a very difficult day. We had a lot of petrol fumes in the car and a lot of fuel, so it was very difficult and I lost my concentration, and I went off the road.
“I’m back on the road now and the car is fine, just some cosmetic damage and we’ll keep going.”
A group of spectators were able to push Solberg’s car back onto the road allowing him to complete the final two stages of the day and reach the tire fitting area.
“On Oliver’s car we have fumes coming from the exhaust system which is disturbing Oliver and Elliott, it is causing them to lose their concentration and it is also affecting their eyes,” read a statement from Moncet on Saturday afternoon.
“Unfortunately this loss of concentration caused him to make a small mistake and run off the road. Luckily the spectators pushed the car back onto the road and he was able to complete the stage. He has done the tire fitting area now and it will continue this afternoon.”
Hyundai’s 2022 season opener has proven difficult so far as the team is struggling with hybridization and handling issues with its i20 N. The all-time pace had improved over the stages on Friday, but Ott Tanak and Thierry Neuville encountered problems on Saturday.
Neuville suffered a mechanical problem that only allowed him to run at 75%, while Tanak was forced to retire. The 2019 champion suffered two punctures before an impact to the front of his car after sliding down an embankment in the snow during stage 11.
Without midday assistance in the format of the Monte-Carlo Rally, Tanak was unable to repair the car and Neuville will have to fight until the return to the service park this evening.