Ole Christian Veiby has definitely had a dream start as a works driver for Skoda Motorsport in the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC). This weekend he won the Australian round and at the same time he took the championship lead.
What eventually became a dominant victory could just as well have ended in the worst way possible. With almost a minute’s lead going into the final stage, Ole Christian Veivy’s only job was to get to the finish line. Suddenly a kangaroo jumped out onto the road and could have ruined the weekend.
“That was a real scare. Luckily we didn’t collide” said Ole, who after the last stage were 49.3 seconds ahead of his Team MRF Skoda team-mate Gaurav Gill from India. With that, the 20-year-old Norwegian took over the overall championship lead in the APRC. He is one point ahead of Gill after two of six events. Gill is the current APRC champion, so Ole could not have had a better start of his career as a factory driver.
“It’s incredibly nice with a start like this. I’ve been told repeatedly how important it is to finish the rally and get to the finish. When I do that – and at the same time win – I feel like I’ve done my job” he said with a smile.
Ole and his co-driver Stig Rune Skjærmoen were prepared for an exciting duel with team-mate Gill and that is exactly what they got. On Satuday’s stages, the two Skoda drivers were in a close battle for the lead.
“We switched the lead from stage to stage. Gill got a little gap when we had a puncture that cost us about ten seconds. But we fought back and were leading by 11.9 seconds after Saturday’s stages” said Ole.
Bonus points are given out after the first day and that was something that became crucial for the Norwegians to be able to take the championship lead after the first two events. At the opening round in New Zealand, they were also in the lead after the first day, but eventually finished second behind Gill. This weekend they did not have any technical problems and could beat Gill in the end.
“We started Sunday with a lead of almost 12 seconds and that is not much in rally. We had to keep up the pace. After the three first stages, we had a 49 seconds’ lead despite a puncture that made us lose 10-15 seconds. When two stages remained, it was all about controlling our lead until the finish. Luckily we made it – even though the kangaroo tried to scare us” he said with a smile.
The event was based in the capital of Australia, Canberra, and Ole describes it as a very nice rally with enjoyable stages.