In Mads Ostberg's first exclusive column on Crash.net for 2013, the Qatar M-Sport World Rally Team man looks back on Rally Sweden, where he put his Ford Fiesta RS WRC car on the podium and gave the team its first rostrum in its new guise...
A warm welcome to my first column on Crash.net
and after my first podium with the Qatar M-Sport World Rally Team in Sweden, I can't think of a better way to start...
It is, of course, going to be a big year for me in 2013 and I'm looking forward to bringing you all the inside story on my season. It was interesting to read Petter Solberg's 'Hollywood magic' columns last year and before that the views of 'Flying Finn' Jari-Matti Latvala, so it is quite cool to be following on from them and of course keep the Ford flag flying. I'm also hopeful I am going to have lots of positive things to write about.
That brings me nicely back to last weekend in Sweden and after my sixth place finish on my Rallye Monte Carlo debut, I was very pleased to get on the podium in only my second event with the team. I only had the two Seb's [Ogier and Loeb] ahead of me, and a lot of other very good drivers were behind. Of course, my aim was higher, as I really wanted to win, but as things turned out, to get on the podium was very good.
The event began well and after posting the second best time in qualifying we were well set-up for the opening day. However on the very first stage on Friday, SS2, Lesjofors 1, I saw the warnings on the dash...
First it was for the leaking water, and then the engine was overheating. Just after that we stopped on the road section to have a proper look and see what we could do. We managed to stop the leaking, and used the energy drinks from our camel backs, snow and windscreen washer fluid to refill the cooling system. Creative eh?
It was very frustrating at the time, however, and also very stressful. We set a good time in the next stage, and were second quickest, but we also got that 20-second penalty for being late to the SS3 time control, and I almost could not believe the bad luck.
We had to re-adjust our heads following that, but the next target was easy - we had to get some time back from Latvala and get on the rostrum.
It was a good fight and very satisfying to get by him on Saturday afternoon and then pull out a bit of a gap. We made a plan to get the seconds back, and then managed to stay ahead, finishing 6.1 seconds up at the end. Everything worked as planned and to get on the podium in Sweden for the third year in a row was pretty cool. We also set some good times, winning the penultimate stage, and setting 14 top-three times, and that shows what is possible.