Team MRF have taken another 1-2 finish in the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship, with Norway’s Ole Christian Veiby taking out the National Capital Rally in Australia.
Veiby and co-driver, Stig Rune Skjarmoen, drove their Skoda Fabia R5 to a 49.3 second victory over team-mates Gaurav Gill and Stephane Prevot, and in doing so, ended Gill’s incredible seven rally winning streak.
Based in Canberra, this was the first time the National Capital Rally had been a round of the APRC, with previous Australian rounds being held in Queensland.
In tough, technical and often rough conditions, the Team MRF Skodas proved to be the class of the field. Veiby and Gill, from India, shared fastest stage times early on day one, before the young Norwegian built a lead that he would hold until the end of the event.
While day one was dry and dusty, the second day was cold and wet, with one of the day’s six stages cancelled due to the slippery conditions.
“I have enjoyed the rally a lot, it’s something special,” Veiby said.
“After our bad luck at the opening round of the APRC in New Zealand, I am more than happy to win here in Australia. Thanks to Team MRF and Skoda for giving me such a fantastic car.
“The stages suited us well, we managed to take some good time on the others and the last two stages was just cruising in and securing it,” he said.
While disappointed that his run of seven victories had come to an end, Gill was pleased with second place and more valuable points towards his title defence.
“It was a good experience to see how the car and the tyres were reacting in the wet conditions,” Gill said.
“Lucky for us we had no dramas with the tyres, but were just searching for the right set-up. I’m happy with the weekend, I’ve learnt a lot and am taking it to the next rally.”
Team boss, Lane Heenan, said that the 1-2 finish was hard earned.
“Congratulations to OC for his win, and to Gaurav for another measured drive,” Heenan said.
“It was the first time in Canberra for our drivers, and for them both to perform so well is a credit to them.
“We expected Jari Ketomaa to be fast in his Mitsubishi, and that proved to be the case. However, once OC established a lead he was able to control that until the finish.”
Gill finished over a minute clear of Ketomaa, with another Scandinavian, Robert Bloomberg, in fourth place. Australian Brad Markovic rounded out the top five in a Subaru.
Veiby’s victory gives him a two point lead over Gill in the APRC as crews head to Malaysia for round three of the championship, from August 11 to 13.
2017 National Capital Rally Canberra,
1. Veiby/Skjarmoen (NOR/NOR), ŠKODA FABIA R5, + 2:15:11.2
2. Gill/Prévot (IND/BEL), ŠKODA FABIA R5, + 0:49.3 min
3. Ketomaa/Mannisenmäki, (FIN/FIN), Mitsubishi Mirage AP4, + 2:05.6 min
4. Blomberg/Andersson (SWE/SWE), Mitsubishi Mirage AP4, + 14:19.0 min
5. Markovic/Feaver (AUS/AUS), Subaru Impreza WRX STi, + 15:36.6 min
APRC points after two rounds
1. Veiby (NOR), ŠKODA, 70 points
2. Gill (IND), ŠKODA, 68 points
3. Blomberg (SWE), Mitsubishi, 44 points
4. Ketomaa (FIN), Mitsubishi, 30 points