Hyundai Motorsport’s WRC2 driver Ole Christian Veiby has been suspended from the World Rally Championship for six months and his co-driver Jonas Andersson for three months after they were both found to have breached coronavirus protocols for Rally Portugal.
Veiby was due to start the event in his Hyundai i20 R5 but pulled out of the contest on Thursday afternoon, after the pre-event shakedown stage, when he tested positive for COVID-19.
WRC2 title leader Andreas Mikkelsen was also sidelined due to a positive test on the Monday, not taking part in any aspect of the event. Veiby and Andersson however both tested negative on Monday but had been in contact with Mikkelsen as he helped them when they competed on the Targa Florio Rally on May 7/8.
Veiby did not declare to the FIA’s COVID-19 delegate that he had been in close contact with a positive COVID-19 person prior to Portugal and both he and Andersson drove from Portugal to Spain which is a breach of local authority regulations.
Veiby is therefore suspended from any WRC event for six months, effective from May 23 until November 23. That rules them out of the entirety of the 2021 season, as the final round in Japan runs on November 11-14.
Andersson’s suspension is less severe as his will only last three months, until August 21, as he was only guilty of traveling from Portugal to Spain and breaking quarantine rules.
A steward’s document read: “Mr Veiby took a routine antigen test on Thursday, 20 May. The result was positive. He was retested with 1D NOWTM COVID-19 molecular rapid test as well as a regular PCR test, both of which revealed a positive result.
“Contact tracing was done and co-driver Jonas Andersson was found as the only close contact.
“The driver was ordered to isolate in his hotel room and the co-driver was set in quarantine. The public health authority (PHA) was informed. Mr Andersson was tested as negative for COVID-19.
“Mr Veiby did not declare to the FIA COVID-19 delegate that he had been in close contact with a person who was found to be COVID-19 positive during the week before the Portugal event. This is a breach of the FIA ISC, Appendix S, Art. 6.18.
“Moreover, the public health authority state that all positive COVID-19 persons must self-isolate for 10 days. Mr Veiby did not do this and drove to Spain on 20 May.
“The World Rally Championship and the FIA take the regulations of FIA ISC [International Sporting Code] Appendix S and the procedures to reduce the exposure to the pandemic extremely seriously.
“Mr Veiby did not state that he had been in close contact with a positive case in the days before the Portugal event and he did furthermore not have permission to, nor did he seek permission to leave Portugal to return to Spain when he was supposed to be in quarantine for 10 days in Portugal.
“This is a serious breach of the applicable regulations.”
Hyundai Motorsport N has also been reprimanded as, the stewards stated: “It is the responsibility of the stakeholder to know that all personnel related to entries on World Rally Championship events are fit to attend and can comply with the 2021 International Sporting Code.”
Volodymyr Korsia, co-driver to Georg Linnamäe in ALM Motorsport’s Volkswagen Polo GTI R5, was also found to not declare a positive COVID-19 test and has been handed the same six-month suspension as Veiby. His situation was slightly different though.
“Mr Korsia took a PCR test on Thursday, 13 May before travelling to Portugal. The result was negative,” read the stewards’ document on the incident.
“As per the COVID-19 delegate notes for the Portugal event, Mr Korsia had to take another test on Sunday 16 May. This result was positive.
“On Monday 17 May, Mr Korsia, acting on his own initiative,took another two Antigen tests and a PCR test –all results were negative. Mr Korsia presented these negative test results to the COVID-19 accreditation centre to gain access to the High-Density Area in Exponor Matosinhos. He did not declare the positive test result from 16 May.”