World Rally Car debut at Rally Monza
First time in a world rally car, Rally Monza was set to be big task for Ole Christian Veiby, who normally drives an R5-car in the championship. On the final event of the season young Veiby and co-driver Jonas Andersson were given the opportunity, to compete with a Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC.
– I have to say it’s been really cool to drive this car, even if it was extremely demanding. It’s a faster car, but also a more complicated car to drive, compared to the R5. The weather made the conditions very challenging, especially on Saturday morning loop. We had everything from rain, snow, ice and slush. Sadly it also ended with us going off the road, and we had to retire from the rally.
Under non-stop rain falling on the Monza Circuit, it started well for the Norwegian/ Swedish crew on Thursday and for the 5 stages on Friday. Standing water on the track and muddy on the parts outside the circuit, made it really difficult to actually learn and adapt to car, but they managed to finish the day holding 8th in the overall classification. Several other WRC-drivers experienced problems, Thierry Neuville were forced to retire after hitting a concrete bollard in a chicane. – It was really difficult, and not easy to get to know the car and it was not easy to find the braking-points. Still I feel we managed to get through the day in an ok pace, not making any big mistakes.
Saturday called for stages up in the Italian Alps, with snow and low temperatures. On the slippery and slushy roads, a wrong tyre-choice made it all about survival for the morning loop. – We decided to go for 3 wintertyres and 3 raintyres, which in the end just made the car very unstable. Because of that I went wide in a junction and missed the exit, then got stuck on a field, before we managed to get back on the road. We made some changes after service, and then I managed to find better braking-points and got into the rhythm. But on one section we went from good grip on wet tarmac, to a section with slush and no grip at all. We had no information that the conditions would change so suddenly, so it was game over for us, and we retired from the rally.
With the backdrop for the rally being the legendary F1-track at Monza and amazing twisty mountain roads in the Alps, everything was in place for a great event, first time competing in a world rally car. But the weather-conditions wanted something different. Non-stop rain over the track, huge amounts of snow on the mountain-roads made it way to challenging for more drivers than Ole Christian. At one point only 7 world rally cars were competing. – Looking at it now, this event was probably the worst ever for a debut in the category. It’s extremely difficult to understand and get to know the strong car, when there is no grip. There is no doubt that with dryer conditions, the outcome would have been completely different.