Mixed fortunes in Sardinia
Ole Christian Veiby and his co-driver Jonas Andersson finished second in the WRC 2 category on a weekend of mixed fortunes for our crews in Rally Italia Sardegna.
Running over three days of competitive action, the event – while being familiar to most crews – was held in later autumnal conditions. Lower temperatures gave the narrow and twisty gravel stages a different characteristic, with tyre management and strategy an influential factor.
Ole Christian equalled his best result of the season but for Nikolay Gryazin and Konstantin Aleksandrov it was an eventful and ultimately disappointing weekend, as they were forced to retire.
Friday’s six stages offered a representative glimpse of what was to come with highs and lows from the outset. Ole Christian scored a stage win in SS2 (Erula-Tula) to take an early lead but then saw his advantage eradicated with a puncture on the subsequent run through Tempio-Pausania (SS3).
“Punctures have really been the story of our rally,” said Ole Christian. “We showed some promising pace at times, winning two stages and we were able to fight back over the three days.”
There was drama for Nikolay in SS5, as he made a mistake which took two of his tyres off the rims. With only one spare in the boot, he was forced to retire for the day.
Hit and miss
Saturday was equally eventful. Ole Christian experienced another puncture on SS8 (Coiluna-Loelle), while also contending with an open boot. Thankfully, the remainder of the schedule ran smoothly for the Norwegian.
Nikolay, meanwhile, endured trouble in the final loop, damaging his radiator, which ultimately caused the engine to overheat. He brought the car back to service but was unable to resume the rally on Sunday morning, bringing an early end to a disappointing weekend for the Russian.
“Our pace this weekend was not as we expected it to be,” he said. “We tried to find improvements on each stage but couldn’t really find a solution. It was good to gain the experience, but it wasn’t the way we wanted things to go. A tough weekend.”
Fight to the finish
Sunday morning saw Ole Christian involved in a close battle for second place in WRC 2. He wasted no time in claiming the position on the morning’s opening stage – Cala Flumini – and then extended his advantage. Even a puncture in the Power Stage could not prevent the crew from confirming their second-place result.
“What an eventful weekend! While I am satisfied with second in WRC 2, I think we deserved the win this weekend. We had targeted a victory push on the final morning but sadly that was not possible,” he concluded.
The final overall classification of Rally Italia Sardegna saw five Hyundai Motorsport-built cars inside the top-eight with Jari Huttunen, his co-driver Mikko Lukka and the Kowax 2Brally Team taking the WRC 3 win and finishing as the top R5 driver in the i20 R5.
Our Team Principal Andrea Adamo was delighted: “We continue to deliver on a job that was started years ago, and we keep on pushing in this direction. Looking at the standings, I am moved and proud of my WRC and Customer Racing teams; this is something we need to print out and put on the wall as it’s a statement of the incredible job that they have done.”
Final Overall Classification WRC 2 – Rally Italia Sardegna
1 P. Tidemand / P. Barth (Škoda Fabia R5) 2:51:58.4
2 O.C Veiby / J. Andersson (Hyundai i20 R5) +28.8
3 E. Brynildsen / I. Minor (Škoda Fabia R5) +49.7
4 M. Østberg / T. Eriksen (Citroën C3 R5) +2:08.3
2020 WRC 2 Championship for Drivers’ Standings
After round 6
1 P. Tidemand 105
2 M. Østberg 87
3 A. Fourmaux 66
4 N. Gryazin 53
5 O.C Veiby 51
6 E. Brynildsen 42
7 R. Yates 22
2020 FIA WRC2 Championship for Teams’ Standings
After round 6
1 Toksport WRT 147
2 Hyundai Motorsport N 102
3 M-Sport Ford World Rally Team 88
4 PH Sport 87
All results remain subject to official FIA confirmation.