Ole Christian Veiby had a big smile on his face after scoring a strong and impressive third place at Rally Sweden. “This is huge and it’s the best rally I’ve ever done” he said.
Two weeks ago, the 20-year-old showed that he has some good competitive speed in him. He kept up with the pace of Mads Østberg at the Norwegian championship round Rally Finnskog. That made it even more interesting to see if he could follow it up at Rally Sweden. And already from start, Ole Christian Veiby was in the game and dominated the WRC 2 class when he and his co-driver Stig Rune Skjærmoen won the spectator stage at the Färjestad track in Karlstad on Thursday evening. This was his first stage win in the WRC 2 at a WRC event. But that was not enough. In his Skoda Fabia R5, he set another fastest time on Friday’s first stage. It probably raised a few eyebrows and made people notice the young rally talent’s name.
“A start that good made me relax a bit. Perhaps I am a little surprised myself at how strongly I opened the rally, but at the same time that was the goal” said Ole.
But with Ole’s EVEN Management teammate Pontus Tidemand chasing from behind, Ole knew that it would be tough to hold onto the lead.
“Pontus was clearly the big favorite and if I would be able to keep him behind me was not something I thought about. Instead I ended up in a thrilling duel with (Teemu) Suninen for second place” he said.
They followed each other closely throughout the rally, but eventually the Finn took the upper hand and was 15.6 seconds quicker than Ole after almost three hours of competitive driving. Still third place feels like a small victory. Ahead of the event, Ole said that reaching the podium was a dream that was possible if he had a perfect event.
“I did what I could to beat him, but he was just too strong for me. I had two spins on Friday and if I could have avoided them, I might have finished second. At the same time I didn’t feel like I had to get second place because I’m very happy with third. It was probably far more important for Suninen to beat me in terms of expectations before start” said Ole, who finished 11th overall at the event – and also became the best Norwegian driver.
“There has been so much learning this weekend. I’ve worked well with the engineers and taken significant steps forward competition wise. Especially on sections where the surface is loose and difficult. I changed my driving style and felt like I figured out how it’s done” said Ole.
Top five WRC2, Rally Sweden 2017
1. Tidemand 2.45.14,7
2. Suninen +51,8
3. Veiby +1.07,4
4. Camilli +3.12,4
5. Greensmith +5.10,8