It is set for a thriller at the season finale of the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) after Ole Christian Veiby’s third place in Japan this weekend. Although he lost the overall championship lead, everything is still possible ahead of the final round.
A broken damper put a stop to Ole Christian Veiby and co-driver Stig Rune Skjærmoen’s effort to take another step towards the overall victory in the Asian rally championship. The Skoda Motorsport driver had to retire on Saturday, but came back strongly on Sunday and secured valuable points for the standings. “We came over a jump on a bridge and landed perfectly. But I noticed right away that something was wrong with the rear right. The car behaved very strangely and we only focused on finishing the stage to find out what had happened. But suddenly, in a corner, we lost the steering. We ended up in a ditch and had no chance of getting back on the road. When we took a closer look at the car, we saw that we had a slow puncture and that was the reason why we ended up in the ditch. We didn’t notice the puncture since the car behaved so strangely with the broken damper after the jump” said Ole.
Ahead of the Japanese round, the Norwegians were in the championship lead, with their team-mate Gaurav Gill ten points behind. In the APRC, points are handed out every day and the fastest driver gets seven points. Since Ole had to retire on Saturday and Gill was quickest, the Indian narrowed down the gap to three points. On Sunday, Ole was back in the game and showed that he is the fastest driver in the championship and advanced to third place in the rally. But with seven bonus points and 15 points for third place, Ole made sure that Gill cannot relax at the season finale on his home soil in India the last weekend in November. Gill scored six points on Sunday and 25 points for his win and overtook the overall lead by six points. That means that the championship will be decided at the event in India and a fierce battle between the two Skoda drivers is expected.
“When I had to retire on Saturday, I immediately thought that I had lost my chance of winning the championship. But the possibility is still there. If I win in India, I take the APRC title” said Ole, who is aware that Gill will feel some extra pressure at home.
“At the same time, the rally in India is completely new to me, while Gill is probably very familiar with it. So it’s going to be exciting. The one who wins the event, takes the overall victory” said Ole.
Photo: Race Torque Engineering