Mads Østberg had hoped to be challenging for another strong result this weekend.
M-Sport World Rally Team’s Mads Østberg currently holds sixth place at Rally Mexico and is hungry for more as the third round of the FIA World Rally Championship continues into the weekend.
The Norwegian historically performs well on Mexico’s gravel tracks and led the event when he last took to the wheel of an Ecoboost-powered Ford Fiesta RS WRC in 2013. He had hoped to be challenging for another strong result this weekend, but a mistaken tyre choice saw him lose touch with the leaders through the opening stages.
Analysing all of the data from previous years, Østberg opted for five of Michelin’s hard compound tyre for the opening speed tests but he and compatriot co-driver Ola Fløene soon discovered that it was not the optimum choice for the loop.
Despite dropping back from the fight at the front during the afternoon, the Fiesta driver is well aware of the potential gains he can make over the next two days. Anything can happen at Rally Mexico and the Norwegians are capable of adding another strong haul of points to their championship campaign.
In the sister M-Sport Fiesta RS WRC, Éric Camilli was learning how character building the Mexican event can be.
Accompanied by Benjamin Veillas for the first time this year, the Frenchman didn’t put a foot wrong throughout the opening day of competition but finds himself outside of the top-ten due to two unfortunate incidents.
Suffering a rear-left puncture through the first pass of ‘El Chocolate’ (SS4), the pairing lost more than five minutes to the leading pack, but remained focused on advancing over the second loop. Unfortunately, their charge was halted when a gear shift issue left them without first and second gear.
Despite suffering a tough world rally car debut on gravel, Camilli has completed all of the stages and gained the vital knowledge and experience that will see him progress his career in years to come.
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Mads Østberg (6th) said: “It’s been a difficult day. We made a mistake with the tyre choice this morning and that lost us time for sure. After just two corners, I knew that we had made a mistake but that is just the way it is sometimes.
“Now, we’re just trying to get back up to the speed that I know we are capable of in Mexico. I feel as though we are driving quite well but the times aren’t where we want them to be. Okay, we’re not getting a massive advantage from our road position, but I know that we can improve.
“There are two more tough days to come and anything can happen in Mexico. Tomorrow, we just need to enjoy it, keep fighting and try to keep improving.”
Éric Camilli (11th) said: “It’s not been the best of days for us. We had a slow puncture on the first stage this morning [SS4] and then we suffered a problem with the gear shift this afternoon. Of course it’s disappointing, but that is just the way it is sometimes and we need to remain positive.
“We have completed all of the stages with a clean run and gained the experience that will be very important for the future. Now, we just need to focus on tomorrow and on continuing to progress and learn this difficult event.”
Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said: “Having hoped to challenge for another strong result, we have been disappointed with our performance today. Okay, we made the wrong tyre choice this morning, but we expected to be closer this afternoon and will certainly have to study all of the data this evening.
“This is usually a strong event for Mads and he says that he has been driving well, so we need to understand where the time loss is coming from. Eric has had a tough day with a puncture this morning and an issue with the gear shift this afternoon, but it is all part of the learning curve.
“This is proving to be a very difficult event but there are still two very tough days of rallying left to contest. Hopefully we can make some improvements and advance our position throughout the remainder of the weekend.”
M-Sport World Rally Team