In Mads Ostberg's latest exclusive column on Crash.net, the Qatar M-Sport World Rally Team man looks back on Rally Finland, where he got back on the podium...

Hi all,

Now that is what we are talking about! I was so pleased to get back on the podium in Finland. Finally it worked out for Jonas [Andersson - my co-driver] and I. We had an almost problem free-run throughout the whole weekend and it was such a pleasure to end up on the rostrum. Sweden - the last time we were up there - seemed like a long time ago and after the way things had gone in the first part of the year it was definitely a bit of a relief...

I didn't feel under too much pressure, however, going to Jyv?skyl?. I had had a really good holiday before and just tried not to think about it too much. It clearly worked.

The event started well and it all felt good after the recce and practice. I was hoping for a better in qualifying, but wasn't too concerned - it was what it was.

Then on the opening day [the Thursday] we had a pretty perfect start, setting good times in every test really bar SS6, the short 2.06 km Killeri super special. We also had an off in SS4, yet we still ended the day third, only 8.9 seconds off the leader. That was very encouraging. We didn't have many competitive kilometres - the first day was only 40 or so kilometres in total - but it still felt great to be back fighting for the top positions.

On Friday we continued to push and it was really pleasing to hold the lead at the mid-day point, even if our lead was only a slender 0.8 seconds over Sebastien Ogier. It is always good to be top on an event, no matter who is second.

The afternoon though, wasn't quite so good. It was quite rough out there and we hit a rock in SS14, the penultimate test of the day. We will never know what might have happened without it, but it can happen to anyone and unfortunately it was me and [team-mate] Thierry [Neuville], who suffered this time. Were it not for those punctures, who knows, maybe we would have seen a three-way battle for the win as opposed to a two-way battle for second...

The fight on the last day was still good fun however, but in the end I had to settle for third after encountering a big rock in SS22 - the second-run through the famous Ouninpohja. It could have been worse though, and if I had hit it I think it could have been game over.

Overall it felt really good to be able to fight all weekend. The Ford Fiesta RS WRC car was perfect. Our testing paid off, and it was just great fun to drive. We had a really good test before the event and that meant that we came to the rally confident in the car and set-up. Of course it was disappointing at times, but I made it onto the podium with my team-mate, so I'm happy! It was just the way we wanted to start the second half of the year and puts us back in the game.

Rally Finland itself was as great as ever. It is one of my absolute favourite rallies - it always has been and always will be. The atmosphere is amazing, and I just love the roads and this year was no different. The only negative I have is that we spent too much time driving road-sections on the first day. I think all drivers felt the same about that because, at the end of the day, we want to rally!

Talking of wanting to rally, the next event is in Germany in a few weeks time and I will have at least two days of testing before, so hopefully we will be well prepared again. We are all really keen to continue the strong result from Finland and we will test on a lot of different surfaces so hopefully we can go to the event full of confidence and with a good set-up for every type of stage.

Germany is a good event and very well organised. The continuous change of surface - from the tight and twisty vineyards to wide open roads and broken tarmac of the Baumholder military ground - means that you need to adapt quickly, however. Then, of course, there's the 'hinkelstones'. It's a challenge, but when you get it right you know you're driving well.

Rallye Deutschland will of course be the first asphalt event of the season - you can't really count Monte Carlo due to the snow - and as you get used to driving on tarmac, it feels good. It's all about having the confidence, and you get that with experience.

We finished fourth in Germany last year, so we'll be looking forward to hopefully improving that result this time around. I'll be targeting a podium as always. Wish me luck.

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

Comments

Join the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register to add your comment