In the WRC2 Championship, the ŠKODA Motorsport works crew of Pontus Tidemand / Jonas Andersson secured the FABIA R5’s fifth successive WRC2 victory and continued the teams 100% start to the season. It was also the first victory on home soil in the WRC2 for the Swedish duo.
But they were not the only FABIA R5 to enjoy success here. Just a year ago, Norwegian youngster, Ole Christian Veiby, made his WRC2 debut in a FABIA R5 in this rally. One year later, he has secured his first WRC2 podium finish, coming home in third place for the Printsport Oy team.
Ably supported by co-driver Stig Rune Skjærmoen, Veiby won the opening stage, what was his first WRC2 stage victory, and then added the second as well to capture plenty of early attention. From there he drove a consistent rally, with no big mistakes apart from two spins on Friday.
Veiby battled hard for second place with Teemu Suninen, the WRC2 Championship runner-up last season, and held his own for much of the rally, ending up just 15.6 seconds behind the more experienced Finn.
Veiby will take great confidence from his maiden WRC2 podium finish into the rest of the season and was also very satisfied to finish as the best placed Norwegian driver in the Rally Sweden 2017 overall classification as well.
There was also a quietly impressive performance from the Finnish crew of Jukka Ketomäki / Jarkko Alanen. Entering independently, but driving a FABIA R5 prepared by the Printsport Oy team, they drove consistently throughout to finish seventh in the RC2 class, although they were not entered in the WRC2 standings.
And perhaps the most dramatic performance of the weekend was enjoyed by experienced Norwegian Henning Solberg and his co-driver Cato Menkerud. Solberg, who was also not eligible to score points in the WRC2 Championship, drove the SRT-run FABIA R5 for the very first time in the shakedown and remarkably managed to post the fastest time of all the R5 cars competing.
After a fast start, Solberg was forced to retire on the Friday after hitting a rock on stage 2. Under Rally2 rules, he returned on Saturday but crashed out again after rolling the car on the opening stage of the day (stage 9).
This left him with a broken windshield, but after managing to borrow one in the service area and already well out of the reckoning for a competitive finish, Solberg put his foot down and recorded four top 5 stage times in the RC2 class in the final six stages of the rally.
The World Rally Championship now moves on to the third round of the season, the Rally Guanajuato Mexico, which takes place from the 9th to 12th March.