In Mads Ostberg's latest exclusive column on Crash.net, the Qatar M-Sport World Rally Team man looks back on Rallye Deutschland, where he finished ninth after sliding off the road in SS12...
We've just had another pretty frustrating rally in Germany, although I know I can do better and we will be looking to do just that next time out.
I also take strength from how Thierry [Neuville], my team-mate, did in the sister Fiesta RS WRC car. He was challenging at the front from the off and came close to winning. I am really happy for him and for the team. He put in a good performance over the weekend, and with the nail-biting finish, it was just great. I know the first win for Qatar M-Sport will come soon...
Yeah, we have had more than our fair share of misfortune this season and I can't blame it all on bad luck. I have done mistakes, my co-driver, Jonas [Andersson] has done mistakes and at the start of the season, we had some minor issues with the car too. But there is always light at the end of the tunnel and I know we can be right up there and running strongly for the Qatar M-Sport World Rally Team.
Prior to Germany, after the great result in Finland - we finished third – I had lots of confidence and we went into Rallye Deutschland with high hopes and expectations.
Testing was good, the recce was good and I wasn't disappointed with only been seventh quickest in the shakedown. We used the runs for more testing, so all in all, I was still looking forward to start.
The event got underway on Thursday with two evening stages and while we were sixth in both of them, I couldn't really find the rhythm with the car, and that made it difficult to set good times.
I struggled with that on the Friday too, and you really need the right feeling to take on all the hairpins and junctions through the vineyards. In the afternoon on the second loop it felt like we were on to something and it helped a bit, and we did gain a place and move up to fifth, but that was only after Sebastien Ogier went out.
Saturday was a bit better, but of course those stages were different to those in the vineyards, and included the notorious Arena Panzerplatte test. We were closer to the pace through those stages, but not close quite enough for my liking.
Then came the afternoon and with heavy rain, the roads were very muddy and slippery. You had to be very careful to stay on the road and keep out of trouble, and in SS12 we just went off. We were not able to get the car back on the stage. There were spectators there helping us, but we just couldn't do it. Jari-Matti Latvala and Thierry also had issues in Stein & Wein 2, which showed it wasn't just me who found it difficult. But that's never much consolation.
So, after that it was Rally 2 for us on Sunday and while we finished ninth, it is quite obvious this was not what we expected. Over the weekend I could see some progress, but clearly there is a lot more work that needs to be done. We made good steps forward on tarmac last year, and I was really hoping to continue with that. I still know it is in there somewhere, I just need to crack the code to get it out!
As for the event itself, it was good and I liked the format. I even enjoyed the four hour bus-drive to Cologne for the ceremonial start!
Now we go to Australia and I am really looking forward to that. From what I've heard, I think the roads will suit the Fiesta RS WRC quite well and I can't wait to get back on to gravel.
I have never competed there before and so that will make it a bit more special. It will mean more work, but Jonas and I have a good system with our pace-notes and are used to tackling new events. I am not worried and with some hard work I think it should be fine.
We won't have any testing beforehand, although I am going to be doing Rally Telemark, the penultimate round of the Norwegian Rally Championship, this weekend. That will get me back into gravel mode and should help us – hopefully – get on the podium in Australia.
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