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WRC Portugal 2013: Ostberg battles back to eighth

15 April 2013

Mads Ostberg stormed back from his off on day one to finish eighth on Rally de Portugal last weekend.

The Qatar M-Sport World Rally Team driver had started very strongly and surged into the lead in the second stage on Friday.

However he then went off in SS3, due to a 'miscommunication' [see separate story]. That meant he had to sit out the rest of the opening day's action and he dropped down to 56th position.

Re-starting under the Rally 2 regulations on Saturday, he then began a fantastic climb back up the order, ending day two in twelfth, before winning three of the four stages on Sunday, to take eighth place overall.

He also claimed additional two points in the all-important Power Stage, dismissing the disadvantage of running fourth on the road to set the second quickest time through the 52.30 kilometre test.

“If you consider the way we came back from our mistake on Friday, we have had a very good rally. We have been very happy with our performance and, considering our road position these past two days, I think we have done a very good job,” said Ostberg. “We had good pace and the car has been working really well this weekend.

“We know for the future that it is possible to win rallies, and I am quite sure that it will come soon.”

Team principal, Malcolm Wilson is also confident that Mads will win soon and he also took comfort from seeing Evgeny Novikov and Nasser Al-Attiyah finish fourth and fifth respectively in the sister cars.

“It's not been the best of weekends for the team, but there are still a lot of positives to take forward. Evgeny and Nasser put in a great performances and Mads' pace in particular proves that the team is capable of winning rallies,” Wilson added.

Meanwhile, of the other Qatar drivers, Thierry Neuville came home in 17th, after hitting a tree in SS6, while Dennis Kuipers, who was drafted in at late notice to replace Juho Hanninen, was forced out after the penultimate stage due to an electrical issue. Kuipers had been on course for seventh.

“It's hugely disappointing to not have finished because we were having a really good run and holding what would have been a fantastic result for us,” Kuipers said. "[Nevertheless] I've really enjoyed being back in the WRC this weekend, and hopefully we can be back again soon.”

“This was a very disappointing rally for us,” Neuville added, “but I can only be angry with myself. My performance was not where it should have been this weekend so I cannot be happy. We can only be happy with the performance of the car, the team and the mechanics, who have done another great job. We're four rallies into the season now and there have been no problems with the car so this is something important at least. Driver mistakes can happen, but I need to make sure that they don't happen so often! Now I just need to put this weekend to the back of my mind and look ahead to Argentina.”


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