The inaugural Kristian Sohlberg Rally training day was recently held with former Finnish WRC rally driver and now full time Rally coach to current top level drivers Kristian Sohlberg in a private test facility North of Brisbane.
Kristian drove with the Mitsubishi WRC team in WRC Rounds from 2000 to 2007 and now is the only full time rally coach in the WRC, coaching the likes of Gus Greensmith and Sami Pajairi. Kristian was excited to help current QLD Rally Championship competitors hone their skills before the 2020 season begins.
1 on 1 training was held with all 6 participants covering topics including car set up, consistency, pace notes, mental approach and various driving techniques. Participants saw huge improvements with times dropping 5-6 seconds per lap from the beginning of the day to the end on a 1200m circuit.
The most improved was Kim Acworth whose times dropped markedly over the short stage.
When asked about the training Kim said, “The transition from Libby (91 RS Liberty) to Bruce (04 Subaru STI Group N) was somewhat harder than I expected. He has so much more grunt than Libby, I’ve ended up driving way too timidly.
I went into the training with Kristian with the goal of finding ways to bridge that gap. I knew there were gaps in my skills and in my confidence to really “drive” Bruce. Kristian definitely helped me with that. When he said “full throttle now…. keep it going”, I held my breath, gripped the steering wheel and did it, and kept doing it even though I was extremely uncomfortable. He got me braking later and changing lines to open the corners as well. After putting it into practice I gained more confidence with each lap.
So my plan for 2020 is to put this into practice out in the forest stages, keep practicing and hopefully improving. Then just maybe we’ll line up for a full QRC season in 2021.”
2017 QRC Novice Series winner Ryan Williams driving a Mitsubishi Mirage for the first time impressed Kristian so much with his natural talent that he has been invited to a test session in Finland in January 2020.
The 40km test on snow and ice will be alongside 2019 SM3 Finnish Rally Champion Sami Pajari in a current Ford Fiesta R2T. This is the same car Sami will be contesting the 2020 WRC Junior Championship in.
Ryan will then also compete in a 60km Finnish RallySprint. All going well in testing and at the RallySprint, there is a possible package for the QLD star to compete at WRC Rally Finland in August 2020 in a Fiesta R2T spec car.
Ryan said “Kristian was such a humble and nice bloke to be around and also gave such precise and easy to understand tips on my driving, I immediately noticed the extra speed and confidence in me and also the car.
But this opportunity to go over and drive in Finland and test with an up and coming Finnish star Sami Pajari, the opportunity is absolutely amazing and I really hope I can make the most of it.
A huge thank you to Russell/Thomas Hewett for organising the rally training day with Kristian which still went ahead despite the slight hiccup the day before with the event needing to find a new location due to catastrophic fire risk and forestry closure”
Russell Hewitt who owns P3 Solutions, the QLD Rally Championships title sponsor was the instigator for the training. Russell also competed in Finland in 2019 Arctic rally, winning his class with the 2018 QRC Novice Co-Driver winner Brad Jones calling the notes.
Speaking with Russell today he says “This is a great opportunity for Ryan and Brad, and one a lot of us wish we had, its simply a dream come true for them both. I’ll do everything possible to help them get to Finland and be successful.
To get to the test will cost $10,000. We are seeking sponsorship and already have $2700 from local QLD businesses and competitors.
But we need more support. Everyone knows you cant get anywhere in motorsport on your own, so I’m asking everyone who ever dreamed of the opportunity that Ryan and Brad have to dig deep and have a hand in what could potentially be the first major step towards a WRC drive in the near future. One day you may be able to say, “I helped them get to the WRC back when they first started” The reality is they cant go without your help.”
For those that would like to help Ryan Williams and Brad Jones get to Finland an account has been set up and donations can be made to
The next Test and Tune event will be run by the Brisbane Sporting Car Club on Feb 22nd 2020 in Jimna. Russell is currently in negotiations with Kristian to have him return for a week of training at Jimna and other locations.
Images by: CH Images