Tue 28 Nov 2023

Champagne celebration for Veiby at end of ‘frustrating’ season

Ole Christian Veiby was pleased to sign off a ‘frustrating’ season on a high with a podium finish on the final day in Hong Kong earlier this month...

Ole Christian Veiby was pleased to sign off a ‘frustrating’ season in the FIA World Rallycross Championship with a podium finish on the final day in Hong Kong earlier this month, as he helped Volkswagen Dealerteam BAUHAUS to secure the Teams’ title for the second consecutive year.

After placing fourth in the Drivers’ standings in 2022 – his maiden full campaign in the series – Veiby had designs on the runner-up spoils in 2023, but just a single rostrum appearance from the opening five rounds heading to Hong Kong dealt his chances a hefty blow.

The Norwegian was nonetheless rapid from the outset around the Central Harbourfront circuit – the first downtown venue in World RX history – and set the pace in qualifying practice on the Saturday morning to the tune of more than three tenths-of-a-second. Track evolution, however, meant he was then in the slower race in heat one, restricting him to sixth position overall.

Putting his extensive rallying background to good use to read the road, Veiby survived an attack from Timmy Hansen at the start of heat two to win the race and climb to fourth in the intermediate classification. He took the chequered flag second in his semi-final behind Niclas Grönholm, and looked set to repeat that result in the final until he lost out to the flying Finn and Timo Scheider in the closing stages.

The 27-year-old ran wide at the beginning of heat one the next day and thereafter struggled for speed, but held his own in a battle of the big guns in heat two. He then threw his ZEROID X1 boldly around the outside of his adversaries from the far side of the grid in heat three, going on to grab the second-quickest time of the session after Grönholm suddenly and unexpectedly slowed exiting the last corner.

Veiby was evenly-matched with the CE Dealer Team driver once again in the pair’s semi-final, before advancing to second at the start of the final and remaining there throughout, equalling his career-best finish and leapfrogging the elder Hansen brother to snatch fifth spot in the championship table.

“It’s been a frustrating season and it was frustrating again on the first day [in Hong Kong], but Sunday could not have gone better,” the Kongsvinger native reflected. “It was great to finish on a high.

“I ended up in the second race in both heats on Saturday and the track got so much worse with each race, which made it impossible to set good times. That clearly wasn’t the result we were after, but at least we secured the Teams’ championship.

“After such a tough season, it felt great to be back on the podium in the last round with a one-two for the team in front of an awesome crowd – that was fantastic. Our goal had been to finish on a high and for me to seal a top five place in the championship standings, so it was mission accomplished – big thanks to the team for everybody’s hard work this year.”

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