Wed 01 Mar 2023

Thriving in the lion’s den

Some would say that going up against Johan Kristoffersson – now five times an FIA World Rallycross Champion, and by some margin the most successful driver in the series’ history – in equal equipment is akin to career suicide, but Ole Christian Veiby boldly entered the lion’s den last year and not only is he surviving, he is thriving.

Some would say that going up against Johan Kristoffersson – now five times an FIA World Rallycross Champion, and by some margin the most successful driver in the series’ history – in equal equipment is akin to career suicide, but Ole Christian Veiby boldly entered the lion’s den last year and not only is he surviving, he is thriving.

A Euro RX victory aside, there was little in Veiby’s prior record to suggest he would be a Kristoffersson-beater on his return to World RX competition in 2022 following a six-season absence – a brace of semi-final appearances the best results from his previous four-round stint. And while it was rare to see the Norwegian’s Volkswagen Dealerteam BAUHAUS RX1e ahead of the sister car on merit, there were times when it did happen.

Acquitting himself more than admirably, Veiby was on the podium immediately in the Hell curtain-raiser, and in the fight for the runner-up spot in the Drivers’ standings until the very last day of the campaign. Indeed, he led that particular battle at the midway stage, but a run of ill-fortune cost him dear; any technical issues inside the Kristoffersson Motorsport garage always seemed to strike his car, ultimately relegating him to fourth in the title table.

In November’s Nürburgring season finale, however, the Kongsvinger native outperformed Kristoffersson in heat two, and by dint of reaching the rostrum in half of the ten rounds, he contributed significantly to KMS’ successful acquisition of the Teams’ crown.

Having already outlined his objectives for 2023, Veiby is aiming to get the better of his illustrious team-mate and friend on a more regular basis over the coming months.

“It’s not easy to be in the same team and car as somebody so good,” the 26-year-old acknowledged. “You know it’s possible to set those lap times because he does them, so it’s a bit frustrating not to be able to replicate that with the same material at your disposal – but we got close a few times last year. It’s a question of putting everything together.

“Our engineer, Richard [Browne], often said to me, ‘in rallycross, you have to frequently switch between rallying and racing’, and that’s good advice. Sometimes I was probably a bit too wild – Solberg-style – and that isn’t always the fastest way, but other times it pays to be aggressive. It’s all about knowing when to really attack, and that’s where Johan is particularly good.

“All that said, there are many benefits to sharing a team with him. It’s no secret that he’s the best driver there’s ever been in World RX, and it’s a real privilege to be able to learn from him. Maybe he even learned a few things from me, too...

“Johan, Gustav [Bergström] and I all work together really well both on and off-track, and obviously Johan and I have been close friends for a while. It’s so cool to be back in this team again – KMS is honestly like a family for me. It felt like coming home.”

Latvia
Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Italy
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 7:00:00 AM
Hungary
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM