Ostberg and Meeke set shakedown pace
Mads Ostberg has vowed not to get too carried away after he set the joint fastest time in shakedown for Wales Rally GB, the deciding round of the 2011 World Rally Championship.
Ostberg, driving an M-Sport Stobart Ford Fiesta RS WRC, completed the 1.7-kilometre all-gravel stage in a time of 1m31.2s, the same time set by factory MINI John Cooper Works WRC driver Kris Meeke, from Northern Ireland.
“Okay, it’s only shakedown and not the rally but it still means things are working straight away,” said the Norwegian. “It gives you a small boost when you are fastest but we won’t get carried away. Definitely I’m happy with the car after the pre-event test. I just can’t wait to start the stages now.”
Works Citroen driver Sebastien Loeb, who heads Mikko Hirvonen by eight points in the chase for the world drivers’ title, was third fastest on the rain-hit practice course around the service park in Builth Wells with Meeke’s MINI team-mate Dani Sordo fourth quickest.
MINI WRC Team technical chief Dave Wilcock was buoyed by the performance of his two drivers. He said: “Both cars functioned perfectly on the shakedown. Both drivers are very happy with their cars and looking forward to starting the rally proper tomorrow. Now it is business as usual, getting the mud off the cars and putting the final settings in for the lights.”
Sebastien Ogier, who partners Loeb at Citroen, factory Ford ace Jari-Matti Latvala and Briton Matthew Wilson were equal fifth fastest, all setting a time of 1m32.5s.
Hirvonen, meanwhile, was eighth quickest with ex-Formula One world champion Kimi Raikkonen ninth and Monster World Rally Team’s Ken Block 10th.
Here are the Shakedown times of the World Rally Car drivers:
=1. OSTBERG. Ford Fiesta RS WRC. 1:31.2
=1. MEEKE. MINI John Cooper Works WRC. 1:31.2
3. LOEB. Citroen DS3 WRC. 1:32.1
4. SORDO. MINI John Cooper Works WRC. 1:32.2
=5. OGIER. Citroen DS3 WRC. 1:32.5
=5. LATVALA. Ford Fiesta RS WRC. 1:32.5
=5. WILSON. Ford Fiesta RS WRC. 1:32.5
=8. HIRVONEN. Ford Fiesta RS WRC. 1:32.8
=8. RAIKKONEN. Citroen DS3 WRC. 1:32.8
10. BLOCK. Ford Fiesta RS WRC. 1:33.4
11. H. SOLBERG. Ford Fiesta RS WRC. 1:33.9
=12. KUIPERS. Ford Fiesta RS WRC. 1:34.4
=12. P. SOLBERG. Citroen DS3 WRC. 1:34.4
=12. PROKOP. Ford Fiesta RS WRC. 1:34.4
15. NOVIKOV. Ford Fiesta RS WRC. 1:34.7
16. TANAK. Ford Fiesta RS WRC. 1:34.8
17. ARAUJO. MINI John Cooper Works WRC. 1:35.2
(19). VAN MERKSTEIJN JR. Citroen DS3 WRC. 1:36.2
(23). OLIVEIRA. MINI John Cooper Works WRC. 1:39.3