In Mads Ostberg's latest exclusive column on Crash.net, the Qatar M-Sport World Rally Team man looks back on Rally Argentina and that 'unpleasant meeting with a rock' in SS4...
I had hopes of getting on the podium in Argentina in my Fiesta RS WRC car, but for the third event in succession I had to use Rally 2. Obviously, I was very disappointed. It was not the plan at all. But I still came back from Argentina with a lot of valuable experience and I will be looking to put that to good use in the future.
It is a really amazing event and the amount of spectators that turn out is huge. They create a good atmosphere both on and off the stages, and despite the result, I enjoyed it very much. The stages, as usual, were great and the scenery is really amazing.
The event started well and the reconnaissance was good. I didn't really get into the rhythm for qualifying, but sixth wasn't too bad.
Then in the first few tests I wasn't happy with the set-up. It didn't really work for us. But after speaking with Nige, my engineer, we made some changes during the midday service and I found that the car was working perfectly in the afternoon. It did exactly what I wanted it to do and I was feeling really confident.
It was a shame then what happened in SS4, the first test after lunch. As I said the car was feeling great so I was ready to capitalise on that. But unfortunately it was not to be and after an unpleasant meeting with a rock, we were out for the day.
The rock damaged the steering and the suspension. It was very bad luck and very disappointing for the entire Qatar M-Sport World Rally Team. The rock was not there during the recce so must have been dragged onto the road by the cars in front. It was right on the racing line so, unfortunately for us, there was nothing we could do.
So, on day two we re-started and began the fight back, hauling ourselves up from P11 to P7. Again we set some good times – including winning SS7, despite the fact we were first on the road - and it was good to get confirmation of our pace. It's just that it is not the same, however, when it comes after restarting.
On the final day we decided to take it slowly and take care of the tyres and then really go for it on the Power Stage and try and grab a few bonus points. Unfortunately though, it didn't work out. I couldn't quite find the right rhythm so we had to settle for the fourth best time, just missing out on a bonus point.
Not a great event then, but seventh was better than nothing and once we found a good set up on the first day, the car worked perfectly. In fact I believe we were the only manufacturer to have 100 per cent reliability all weekend. Given how rough these stages are - and that we are next heading to Greece - that is something really positive.
I'm going to go for a big push on the Acropolis later this month. We need a good result now. It is a tough event and maybe the toughest, although Argentina is also a very tough rally and the Fiesta RS WRC coped brilliantly there, as I mentioned.
We will have a day's worth of testing test before then – and we will be looking to find the optimum set-up and tyre strategy. I've done the Acropolis four times now and having finished fourth last year, I'd like to go at least one better this season. Hopefully though, we can fight for a win. It is always important to have a smooth run, and especially now as I do need the points.
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