In Mads Ostberg's latest exclusive column on Crash.net, the Qatar M-Sport World Rally Team man looks back on the Acropolis Rally - and while he suffered more misfortune in Greece, he's not letting it get him down...
After Rally Argentina, I wrote that we needed a good result in Greece. As you all now know, it didn't go to plan. But while it was frustrating and sixth wasn't the result I wanted, I am not laying awake at night, tossing and turning and wondering when my luck will change - it will
change in Sardina! The only way is onwards and upwards now.
The easiest thing to do would be to sit down, and feel sorry for yourself and the team - and to think that there is no point in going on. But that doesn't get you anywhere. The only way forward is to bring the positives with you - and there is always something positive, no matter how bad it looks. I have a good team around me, there is a great bunch of people within the Qatar M-Sport World Rally Team, and they always help looking for the positives. I have a good coach in Norway as well, who helps me get back on track when it is needed and the Ford Fiesta RS WRC car is also very competitive, so, there is plenty to smile about.
Not having to re-start and finish under Rally 2 in Greece, for example, was a good thing. We set some good times too, especially on the final day. It all looked promising for some extra bonus points in the Power Stage – until the puncture... But we had a good set-up on that last day that worked really well, and as soon as I got used to it, we were able to benefit from it and that could be handy on the next event.
The Acropolis started pretty promisingly. I was looking forward to competing there and felt really confident, and the fifth fastest time in qualifying was solid. Then in SS1 though, we lost a wheel.
When we first arrived at the stage end, all we knew was that the wheel had come off. Later we learned that there was a step going from the gravel to concrete on the stage. When we hit it, the impact caused the wheel to break. That incident cost us over 3 minutes and it was a bitter blow, but we came back, climbing up from eleventh place to eventually finish in sixth.
Day two was pretty good initially and I was happy with our pace. We were doing well to claim back the positions and were following the plan regarding target times. Unfortunately we had a bit of a set back with the steering arm in SS5 and then later the puncture in SS8, but that is the nature of the Acropolis.
It remains one of the toughest events in the WRC, and also it is one of the fastest gravel events. It's a challenging combination.
Of course, it was shorter this year, although the Friday and Saturday were both very long days. With all the dust and the heat you are left exhausted at the end of each leg, and then you still have to do some late hours work on your pace-notes. It really does take its toll. It is nice then that the atmosphere is so good. That really helps. There were loads of people out on the stages, and there a great 'buzz' in the service park. It's always nice to go to Greece.
Now though, it is on to Sardinia and I can't wait to start again and prove to myself – and everybody else – that I can do this! It is another rough event, but not as tough as Greece. Hopefully the outcome will not depend on luck alone and we can prove that we have the ability to win rallies.
I've done quite well in Sardinia over the years and this will be my sixth outing on Rally d'Italia. In 2011 I was fifth and last year I was fourth. I know I can do better, and of course that will be my aim.
That's all for now...Mads Ostberg
To keep tabs on the Qatar M-Sport World Rally Team's progress in 2013, simply follow this link: www.qatarmsportwrt.com