Having started joint fifth overall this morning, Mads Østberg moved ahead of Mikko Hirvonen and Ott Tanak to grab third place at Rally Sweden.
The final few kilometres of yesterday’s first leg had given an idea of the potential of the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team. The three Citroën DS3 WRCs took advantage of the work done since the start of Rally Sweden to continue to make progress and move up the standings.
After starting the day in fifth position, Mads Østberg grabbed third overall on SS8. Visibly more comfortable on roads where the frozen gravel was exposed, the Norwegian showed good speed and consistency to carve out a significant advantage over his nearest challengers.
Second on the road, Khalid Al Qassimi had to deal with especially tricky conditions. Without making any mistakes, he moved up to 18th position.
A long final day awaits the crews still in the race. Tomorrow’s closing leg features eight timed stages over a total of 142 kilometres. SS24, Varmullsesen, will be the Power Stage. The rally is due to finish in Karlstad at 5.27pm. QUOTE, UNQUOTE
Mads Østberg: “I’m starting to understand where we are losing time compared to the fastest drivers. But it’s difficult to find those extra few seconds. I’m trying to change my driving style so I can close the gap. The goal is to keep it up and try and hold onto our position until the end.”
Kris Meeke: “The conditions were changing a lot this morning. As more cars came through the stages, the gravel was increasingly exposed under the snow. There was a lot more grip. I was pleased with my consistency, especially as some of the others ran into problems. I’m now sixth overall, and to be honest, that’s beyond the expectations I had for this rally.”
Khalid Al Qassimi: “We were first on the road today. It was difficult to feel confident. I tried to push a bit more in some sections, but I almost went off. I don’t want to take any more risks even though I know I can go faster. If we feel better tomorrow, then we’ll push a bit more.”
Yves Matton (Citroën Racing Team Principal): “The conditions were especially tough today. Mads upped his pace, whilst leaving a certain margin of safety. This is only his second rally in the Citroën DS3 WRC. Going after one of the top two places would involve taking risks that we feel are too great for his experience in the car. Kris continued to drive according to his feeling. He is racking up the miles in preparation for the races ahead. And that’s exactly what we asked him to do before the start.”
Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team