After the retirement of long-time co-driver Phil Mills, Petter Solberg began the search for a new navigator. He found it in Chris Patterson. AUTOSPORT talked to Solberg about his decision.
Q. How did you decide on Chris Patterson?
Petter Solberg: Well, it wasn't easy. We had 45 people applying to be my new co-driver, so it took a while to make it down to number one. We came down to three co-drivers and went and did a test with them in France.
Q. What did you do in the test?
PS: We did two runs at a stretch of road like the recce, when we made some notes and then we did one at full rally speed when the guys were reading the notes. As well as that, I was looking to see how well and how accurately they were able to make changes to the pace notes, that kind of thing. Of course, there were other things, I wanted a light co-driver and a co-driver who spoke English, but it was the way we worked in the car together which was the most important.
Q. And how did it feel with Chris?
PS: Good. He was the best one of the three for me, but it was a very difficult task to go through. He didn't know how to read or write my notes before we started, but he did a really good job. There are a lot of things for us to think about now, but we will be ready for Bulgaria.
Q. How tough will Bulgaria be?
PS: Of course it's not going to easy and it will take some time to settle in on the first event, but the test we're doing will help this weekend. Chris has a lot of experience which is really important for me. He has done a lot of rallies with different drivers. He was really calm in the car and really motivated which is what I want.
Q. How hard will it be listening to somebody other than Phil Mills call your notes?
PS: It's going to be strange. Phil and I were together for a long time, we were a team, but things change and now we have to move on with Chris. When Phil told me his decision, I had no clue how I was going to get this sorted out, but we have done it now. I don't know how I will feel when we start the rally yet, but that's not too far away before we can find out. The first test yesterday went well with Chris, I'm happy for that. Phil is coming to Bulgaria, which is good news.