M-Sport driver Mad Østberg has driven flawlessly all weekend and climbed the standings as a result.
M-Sport World Rally Team's Mads Østberg and Ola Fløene have climbed into fourth position at Rally Mexico – courtesy of an intelligent drive behind the wheel of their Ecoboost-powered Ford Fiesta RS WRC.
Tackling 152.40 competitive kilometres, the second full day of competition included a pass of the Ibarrilla stage (SS11) which has posed something of an ‘Achilles Heel’ for the Norwegian in previous years. This year however, the gravel tracks didn’t cause him any issues as he settled into a comfortable rhythm.
Driving well, Østberg has run an intelligent rally thus far. Avoiding the pitfalls that catch out a number of crews year on year, the Norwegian has driven flawlessly all weekend and climbed the standings as a result.
I think it's fair to say that both myself and the team were hoping for more,
With the FIA World Rally Championship's longest stage in more than 30 years left to contest, his consistency means that he and Fløene are in a strong position and have the potential to capitalise further should the unforgiving stages produce any more drama tomorrow.
In the sister M-Sport Fiesta RS WRC, Éric Camilli was contesting what is only his eighth ever gravel event and was learning how demanding the Mexican fixture can be.
Having suffered a puncture and a gear shift issue through yesterday's stages, he and co-driver Benjamin Veillas were focussed on gaining further knowledge and experience. Starting well, the pairing were setting the same pace as their vastly more experienced team mate through the first stage of the morning (SS11, Ibarrilla) but would not reach the flying finish.
Clipping a rock on a fast right-hand corner less than three kilometres from the stage end, the Frenchman damaged the steering of his Fiesta RS WRC. Rally-leader Jari-Matti Latvala hit the same rock but where the Finn only suffered a puncture, Camilli's unlucky impact brought his day to an untimely end.
With their Fiesta fully repaired by the M-Sport technicians, he and Veillas will restart under rally 2 regulations tomorrow – eager to gain more experience and add their names to the record books should they help M-Sport and Ford secure a 200th consecutive manufacturer-points-scoring finish.
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Mads Østberg (4th) said: "Results wise it's looking really good. We've been driving well all weekend and I've driven my best all day. We've avoided any mistakes and we're now in fourth place which would be a really good result come the end of the rally. I think it's fair to say that both myself and the team were hoping for more, but that's the way it is and we're all working hard to improve.
"Tomorrow we have the long 80 kilometre stage. We have done some long stages today, but we have to do double that tomorrow so I'm sure it will be a really big challenge. We just need to stay focussed and continue as we have today. Hopefully that will deliver us another strong result."
Éric Camilli (19th) said: "At the end of the first stage this morning we hit a rock and broke the steering which meant that we could go no further. There wasn't a lot of damage, but unfortunately we were unable to make a repair and finish the day.
"It's just the way it is and we need to remain positive. It's not been the start to the season that we wanted, but experience is such a big part of rallying at this level. Without it, I know that it is very difficult to finish an event but we just have to work harder and keep trying.
"It wasn't a big mistake and Jari-Matti [Latvala] actually hit the same rock so my confidence is still strong and I know that in time things will be better."
Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said: "Things have been a little better today and Mads is in a strong position going into the final day. The pace still isn't where we want to be, but if he can maintain this position it will give us a big boost in the drivers' championship.
"Éric's had another difficult day having hit a rock that was dislodged by the car in front. The impact damaged the steering and he has paid a heavy price – losing the valuable experience he would have gained from today's stages. The good thing is that he will be back out tomorrow when we hope to reach a record-breaking 200th consecutive points-scoring finish for Ford."
M-Sport World Rally Team