Ole Christian Veiby became the first driver this season to break the Skoda Motorsport lockout of the WRC2 top step, beating Pontus Tidemand to class victory in Rally Poland.
Veiby held a lead of over a minute going into Sunday’s quartet of stages, his chief rival Tidemand suffering a puncture that put him out of contention. This left the Norwegian to cruise through to his first victory in the WRC2 category, the first driver outside of the factory Skoda Motorsport team to win this season.
Tidemand found himself in an unusual position, settling for second place having won all four of his previous WRC2 appearances this year. Despite missing out on the top step, he was not too disappointed to finish as the runner up this time around.
“I’m satisfied,” he said when asked to sum up his rally. “We are still here in second place which is good for the championship.”
“Ole [Christian Veiby] did very well on the Friday and was very quick on the Saturday. I always knew that he’s been quick, and it’s showing in many other rallies, but I’m a little bit impressed he can go all the way with no mistakes.”
Far behind the lead duo in third was Quentin Gilbert, finishing over four minutes behind Veiby to secure his first WRC2 podium since last year’s Monte Carlo Rally.
There had been one close battle for position since Saturday, with Benito Guerra edging ahead of Yoann Bonato yesterday afternoon and holding the Frenchman at bay. Punching his leg in frustration in the penultimate stage, he thought the battle was lost, only for Bonato to go eight tenths slower and leave the Mexican with an easier run through to the finish line.
“It’s been a very good weekend,” he said. “I really love Rally Poland. The stages are so fast.
“The Friday was so different from Saturday and Sunday, because on Friday we have a lot of rain, Saturday was so dry and it was the real Rally Poland. Now we have a lot of rain in the morning, it was muddy.
“This is my fourth rally in WRC2 and we are in fourth place, so if we could stay with this difference to Bonato – who is a great driver – it would be amazing,” continued Guerra whilst at the end of the penultimate stage. A trouble-free run through the powerstage sealed his fourth position, extending his gap from 2 seconds to 18 seconds by the end of Sunday’s stages.
Wojciech Chuchała was the best of the local drivers in sixth place, and was frustrated that the various issues which blighted his weekend meant he couldn’t challenge for the podium.
“We’ve [had] big technical problems and big setup problems at the beginning,” he explained. “With that we lost a lot of time, and unfortunately without that we could be in a good position.”
Gus Greensmith recovered from his accident on Friday to finish seventh, taking advantage of Raul Jeets retiring and overhauling Fabio Andolfi in the very last stage. The final WRC2 points went to Pedro Heller and Simone Tempestini, with Łukasz Pieniążek the only finisher outside of the points positions in 11th.
|1.||Ole Christian Veiby||Printsport||2:53:39.3|
|2.||Pontus Tidemand||Skoda Motorsport II||+32.9|
|3.||Quentin Gilbert||Quentin Gilbert||+4:20.3|
|4.||Benito Guerra||Motorsport Italia SRL||+7:04.9|
|5.||Yoann Bonato||Yoann Bonato||+7:22.9|
|6.||Wojciech Chuchała||Sebastian Rozwadowski||+8:16.9|
|7.||Gus Greensmith||Gus Greensmith||+21:59.0|
|8.||Fabio Andolfi||ACI Team Italia||+22:18.9|
|9.||Pedro Heller||Pedro Heller||+36:10.7|
|10.||Simone Tempestini||Gekon Racing||+58:54.4|