His challenge was clear already before the start: He had to score seven points more than his MRF ŠKODA teammate Gaurav Gill, who came as championship leader to his home rally.
In front of more than ten thousand enthusiastic rally fans on the first show stage at the Amber Valley Residential School, the battle for victory and championship honours started. Gill was faster than Veiby by the little margin of 0.2 seconds, all seemed to be set for a tense fight in the Indian forests.
Unfortunately all hopes for an epic fight between the two MRF ŠKODA teammates were gone as soon as the rally turned to the coffee plantations around Chikmagalur in the Southwest of India. During the second special stage Ole Christian Veiby and co-driver Stig Rune Skjærmoen were slowed down by a gearbox issue. Coffee tasted bitter for Veiby, who had to complete six more stages with a gearbox finally providing only third gear.
Thanks to the robustness of his ŠKODA FABIA R5, he could make it to the midday service in Chikmagalur. The mechanics of Team MRF ŠKODA demonstrated their class by changing the gearbox and the clutch in around 20 minutes, keeping Veiby in the rally.
After his teammates bad luck Gaurav Gill built up a clear lead already after the Saturday leg. The local hero drove faultlessly on Sunday as well, winning Rally of India and the APRC title for himself and co-driver Stéphane Prévot.
In the prestigious Asian-Pacific regional championship ŠKODA can look back on unparalleled success. Since 2012 each title winner has competed in a ŠKODA. Winning the first three championships with the normally aspirated ŠKODA FABIA S2000, the Czech brand now achieved the hat trick with the most successful rally car in its category, the turbo-powered ŠKODA FABIA R5.
|2017 Rally Hokkaido – Final Results:|
|1.||Gill / Prévot (IND/BEL)||ŠKODA FABIA R5||3:20.19.8 hrs|
|2.||Veiby /Skjarmœn (NOR/NOR)||ŠKODA FABIA R5||+17.38.4 min|
|3.||Sharfaz / Akhry (SRL/SRL)||VW Polo||+ 49.57.6 min|
Number of the day: 20
During Saturday midday service the mechanics of Team MRF ŠKODA changed gearbox and clutch on O.C. Veiby’s FABIA R5 in roughly 20 minutes.