Mads Ostberg has finished sixth on his Rallye Monte Carlo debut to get his 2013 WRC campaign off to a solid start.
Ostberg, who is the team leader for the Qatar M-Sport World Rally
Team this season – the ex-Ford works outfit, found the going difficult early on. However, as the event went on he gained in confidence somewhat and was even quickest in SS12 on Friday, the 22.11 km St Nazaire le Desert test.
He continued to set good times on Saturday too and was second in SS14, the first-run through the demanding 'Col du Turini' test, where he gained three places on the leaderboard after the super demanding conditions caught out his team-mates, Evgeny Novikov
and Juho Hanninen and VW's Jari-Matti Latvala.
Furthermore despite a scare himself in SS16, the repeat-run through 'Col du Turini' and what would turn out to be the final test when SS17 and SS18 were cancelled, Ostberg kept his composure and despite losing fifth place as a result, he was pleased just to get to the finish in his Fiesta RS WRC car and pick up eight points.
“I have never seen anything like the conditions we had today,” Ostberg reflected. “There was a good layer of snow, but it was all slushy and wet so there was no grip at all – the car was just sliding around on the top.
“The first time through [SS14, 'Col du Turini'] we were just working to stay on the road. I was completely out of stage mode because there was nothing – you just had to try and be really careful on the throttle to find some grip.
“The second stage [SS15] was okay. There were a few slippery places at the top but it was driveable at least.
“But the next stage [SS16, the second run through 'Col du Turini'] was just horrible. We hit a wall and had to stop in the stage to check that everything was okay. We bent something on the rear of the car and lost about five minutes but still we only lost one position so that was good at least.
“Overall then, considering the conditions that we have encountered here, I am very happy to have finished the rally and to take some strong points away from what has been a really difficult event for us.
"We've learnt a lot and made a lot of progress, so that is something positive. Now I am looking forward to Sweden and an event that I know really well!” summed up the Norwegian.