Johor (Malaysia), Aug 12: Ole Christian Veiby of Team MRF survived treacherous conditions and rode his luck to take a seemingly winning lead in the International Rally of Johor, the third round of the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship, here on Saturday while defending champion and teammate Gaurav Gill was a distant third following a string of mishaps.
Veiby, the 21-year-old from Norway, driving the Race Torque-prepared Skoda Fabia R5, finished the day marked by incessant rain and led to cancellation of a stage, four minutes, 32.5 seconds ahead of Finland pair of Jari Ketomaa and co-driver in a Mitsubishi Mirage.
For Delhi-based Gill, 35, it was a wretched outing as he first clipped a tree stump due to "purely a driving error" as he put it in the day's first Special Stage leading to a bent steering arm and later in the day, suffered an alternator problem which fogged the windscreen.
These mishaps cost him precious time, yet, he came up with a superb drive to make about five places, overtaking two cars on different stages in the process to finish the day third, some 12 minutes behind Ketomaa,
Veiby, who leads Gill by two points in the championship standings, has all but clinched the title here with just two loops of three short Special Stages to be run on Sunday.
"It's been a good day overall. But for sure, it was not easy as it is my first time down here. I have never driven in such conditions. It was so slippery," Veiby said.
"I was a bit lucky in some places. On the first stage, I went straight into a tree and after that I used the grass to see how the grip level is. Now I know how fast I could do. In these conditions, it is so easy to do mistakes.
"We have a good gap, but can't just roll down the stages on Sunday. My aim is to try to make it to the finish, but I have to keep the pressure up. I am so lucky to be here at the finish today," he added.