M-Sport return on the cards before Citroen hiatus, says Ostberg

Mads Ostberg says he was considering a return to M-Sport even before Citroen elected to skip the 2016 WRC season, but the French squad’s decision made the process easier.

The Norwegian drove for Citroen in 2014 and 2015, but was left in the cold when the manufacturer elected to put its factory WRC effort on hold for a year.

Previously, Ostberg had contested full WRC campaigns for M-Sport in 2011 and 2013, and said a return to the British outfit in 2016 had been under consideration anyway.

“[Citroen’s decision] certainly made my decision a lot easier, but at the same time I was also very motivated to make a return to M-Sport,” Ostberg told Motorsport.com.

“It was something that I wanted to do and it provided a great opportunity for me.

”They’ve made some positive steps since the last time I was there, but it is still a familiar environment and I recognise a lot of the positive things from 2013."

Asked about the team’s loss of official Ford backing after 2012, Ostberg added: “Manufacturer support is always an advantage, but if anyone can succeed alone without it, M-Sport can.”

New co-driver

Ostberg kicked off his season with a consistent performance, avoiding any issues in the notoriously difficult Rally Monte Carlo to match his best result of fourth in the event.

He also completed the first rally with his new co-driver Ola Floene, as his former partner Swedish Jonas Andersson moves across to accompany WRC2 driver Pontus Tidemand this year.

While Ostberg was satisfied with their debut, he also admitted they are far from reaching their maximum potential and plans to continue learning in Rally Sweden.

“I had to get used to a new language – it’s Norwegian so it shouldn’t be an issue, being my native tongue – but when I’m so used to hearing Swedish pacenotes, it is a really big change.

“It’s always a big challenge starting a new partnership with a new co-driver and we certainly did it the hard way on the most difficult event of the year with only one day of testing together.

“Result-wise, we were both really pleased.”

First ‘proper’ win

Ostberg has collected 14 WRC podiums throughout his career, including a victory in the 2012 Rally Portugal after the exclusion of Mikko Hirvonen, scoring all of them on snow or gravel events.

Understandably, the 28-year-old expects to show better pace in such rallies than in Monte Carlo.

”I think that we have a lot of potential and that we can be very competitive on loose surface events,” he said.

“We’ll be hoping to regularly challenge for the podium, and I’m always aiming to achieve that first ‘proper’ victory!”

Asked about his chances of being able to beat the dominant Sebastien Ogier in order to achieve his target, Ostberg said: “It is possible to beat him.

“But we also know that he is an extremely strong competitor and I don’t think many would bet against him being champion again this year.”

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About this article
Series WRC
Drivers Mads Ostberg
Teams M-Sport
Article type Interview