After a great WRC round in Sweden, Ole Christian Veiby continues collecting experience in a four-wheel-drive Skoda Fabia R5 by participating in two Finnish championship rallies this winter.
The first one of these was Vaakuna Ralli over the past weekend, where the 19-year-old Norwegian finished in an impressive second place. Finland is known for their highly skilled rally drivers and they are often unbeatable at their home events.
But Veiby finished only 2,3 seconds behind the winner Juha Salo, who has contested a number of WRC rounds in his career.
“This has been a very educational rally. These roads have a completely different character than what I’m used to from back home in Norway. They look much like the roads you see at the WRC round” says Ole Christian Veiby.
First and foremost, he is satisfied with his driving and the progression that he had with his co-driver for the weekend, Jonas Andersson, who stepped in for Stig Rune Skjærmoen. But his feelings were somewhat mixed when he finally realized that the difference between him and the far more experienced Salo was just 2,3 seconds after 57 minutes of driving.
“It suddenly felt like a bit of a bummer. I know I could have caught those seconds” says the 19-year-old, who nevertheless points out that he is really happy with his own performance and the second place this weekend.
On unfamiliar roads with a new kind of character, he began driving safely without taking unnecessary risks. It was a difficult task to make pacenotes on super fast roads with blind crests when he did not know how the car would react.
“When you’re driving at 170 km/h and you’re using the brake just a little too much, the seconds disappear quickly. You need a lot of experience to know when you can go flat out and where you need to be more careful, which is something we gradually learned over the weekend” says Veiby.
But – the more experience they got, the better their stage time got, something they noticed already during the event. After constantly losing time compared to the experienced Finns throughout the rally, Veiby and Andersson speeded up on the two last stages. Then they had 20 seconds to Salo. As mentioned, only 2,3 seconds separated them at the finish line, which means that Ole Christian caught as much as 17,7 seconds on two stages.
“We picked up a higher pace pretty naturally, so I was a little amazed that we took that much time. But it is a special feeling to have an average speed of more than 130 km/h on a 30 km stage” he says.
The next event in the Finnish championship is Tahko SM-Ralli on 11-12 March. With experience from fast and snowy winter roads, Veiby already has his goals set:
“Next time we will definitely offer the Finns a real battle. I believe we have given them something to think about until the next event and if they are easily stressed, I don’t think it’s impossible that we can fight for the victory” says an ambitious Veiby.