|PHOTO CREDIT: PSRX Volkswagen Sweden|
Solberg's condition was discovered when he was hospitalized following a first-corner collision with Jānis Baumanis in the semi-finals in Latvia, where he broke two ribs and his collarbone. He made an exceptional recovery and was cleared to race 13 days after the crash.
The Norweigen rose to one of the biggest physical challenges of his career at the World RX of Germany and, after being top qualifier and winning his semi-final, he just missed a podium in the final and finished fourth.
“I think everybody knows I’m somebody who has always had a lot of energy. I know myself that I just can’t keep still, I always have to be busy and doing something," said Solberg.
“A while ago, that changed and I started to feel really tired. Looking back, it was getting worse, but I didn’t really notice it so much. Then I had the accident this time last year in Riga."
"I have a lot to thank that accident for; the x-rays showed there was a problem with one of my lungs. There’s a very long name for the condition, but basically I was producing too much iron."
After a series of tests Solberg was diagnosed with "Sarkoidose", and he was issued with medication to combat the lung disease.
"I’ve noticed some changes with my eyes, my face and I started shaking," he said, before explaining that it has been a quite a scary time, but during a race weekend, the adrenalin would lift him up to compete.
"But after the races, I was really, really tired. After the official test [in France] where I drove for one day, I flew straight home to hospital – I was pretty sick for a while."
“We had to start thinking about somebody else coming in to take my place in the team. If this carried on, I knew myself that I couldn’t do it. This was not a good time for me."
Despite the health challenges, Petter continued racing in 2017, but has had a challenging 2018 season and says that after the Swedish round he has begun to feel better.
“After the race in Sweden, things changed and I started to feel better. And, since then, things have been getting better. I can feel myself that I’m coming back now, the energy is coming again and everything is coming more normal again. We’re on top of this now."
“You know me, you know I have always been straight and honest with everything I have done and that’s why I wanted to talk about this. I understand you can look at me and things don’t look quite right. I haven’t been myself; I haven’t done so much in the media, on the television and with the fans and that hurts me. I have always loved to meet the people and talk to them and not being able to do that has been really hard."
The Norwegian is happy to feels like his normal self. “Believe me, I am coming back now," says Solberg. "There’s another month or so on this medication, then we have some more checks, but the doctors are happy with the way we’re going now and so am I."
Soberg returns to Riga, having finished on the podium last weekend in Loheac. The Norwegian feels that he has a score to settle following his exit last year. “And now, to Riga and a track where I have a score to settle…”