There were many talking-points at World RX of Norway last weekend, but this one truly made sparks fly...
Timmy Hansen and Ole Christian Veiby’s controversial coming-together in Hell in heat four on Sunday had all the makings of a box-office bust-up, with five-time world champion Johan Kristoffersson – who won the race – quipping afterwards that he was ‘just missing the popcorn’. Here’s how it all unfolded...
From second and third on the grid, Veiby and Hansen had already made contact more than once – resulting in a puncture for the Volkswagen driver – when Hansen got up the inside of the home hero entering the final corner on lap two.
The pair proceeded to lean on each other and – with neither willing to yield – Hansen’s Peugeot was forced over the grass and up into the air after catching a bump. The subsequent landing triggered the G-force sensors in his battery and the blue safety light, which ruled him out of the remainder of the event and dealt a hefty blow to the Swede’s title ambitions.
Following a stewards’ enquiry, Veiby was disqualified from the results of the heat for the contact, while his Hansen World RX Team rival was fined €1,000 for approaching the Norwegian in his car and banging angrily on the bonnet.
Needless to say, the pair did not agree about who was at fault...
“OC was carrying a problem, I got up the inside of him going onto the main straight, we were wheel-to-wheel and from there, he moved three or four car-widths to the right to push me off onto the grass,” Hansen opined. “It turns out there’s a hole there, and that resulted in a blue safety light on the battery, which meant my weekend was over.
“It’s one thing if my front wheel is level with his rear wheel, but my front wheel was next to his front wheel – we were completely side-by-side – and he banged into my door a couple of times on the straight before the jump. I tried to avoid him but he banged into me again.
“We were both all the way over to the right, but the [racing] line there is fully on the left of the track. We all know there is a slight kink after the jump; he wanted to push me over there to get me off the track and he succeeded, so I guess he’s happy.
“We’re all racing for the world championship, we all want to win, but when you’re carrying a problem and somebody has already completed the move, to push them off on the straight like that is unacceptable and shows a lack of respect and sportsmanship.
“These cars are expensive, and we don’t have all the money in the world in this team. I fully understand if it’s a close race, but when you have a problem and the other guy is already completely alongside, then the race is lost. I don’t think it was a fair move. To push me off in that situation, I’m really disappointed in him.”
Must-watch: Timmy Hansen and Ole Christian Veiby clash in Hell (https://www.youtube.com/live/aGmd-uwdl1Y?feature=share )
Veiby, for his part, was unrepentant, suggesting the seeds of the clash had been sown some corners before.
“Okay, he was on the inside but I took the normal line as we always do,” the Volkswagen Dealerteam BAUHAUS ace countered. “Everybody knows there is a bump there – you cannot overtake there. He should have just backed off. Timmy was the guy who hit me in the rear and gave me a puncture, so there was his comeback. Just because he got a blue light, he can’t behave totally like a maniac...”