In Mads Ostberg's latest exclusive column on Crash.net, the Qatar M-Sport World Rally Team man reflects on the season ending Wales Rally GB, where he finished fourth overall...
Wales Rally GB brought the curtain down on the season last week and while I wanted to be on the podium, looking at it now, it actually turned out okay. We had a good battle with Andreas [Mikkelsen] and the times on the final day were very positive. Overall fourth at the end in my Qatar M-Sport WRT Fiesta RS WRC wasn't too bad a way to finish the 2013 World Rally Championship.
The event began on the Thursday, and after the recce went well, I was quite pleased to be fifth in qualifying.
We then tackled the three opening night stages and I was again fifth after Clocaenog 1 (SS3), despite a few gearbox issues. I had a bit of trouble with the gearing and had to push extra hard – and even try again at times – to get into the right gear, both going up and down. That cost us some valuable time, but I still enjoyed it and all three tests in the dark were good fun.
The following day [Friday] the car was perfect, but we just struggled to find the best set up. After each stage we tried something else, but nothing seemed to really work and it was impossible to get into a good rhythm. We also had a big moment on the first run through Sweet Lamb (SS5). It was a slow corner, but we were up on two wheels, and for a split second I thought: 'Oh no, this is it!' Luckily we managed to just get back down on four wheels and continue as if nothing had happened...
Despite all that, we gained a place on the leaderboard on day two - when Mikko Hirvonen crashed out in Myherin 1 (SS6), a stage I was actually third quickest in - and so we headed into the penultimate day in P4.
On Saturday I was a lot happier and in the afternoon we finally found the correct amounts of clicks on the rebound – the Focus RS WRC then worked perfectly and we could finally push to get the times we wanted.
Despite slipping behind Andreas then, I was hopeful we could get back ahead on the Sunday, especially as the gap was only 7.3 seconds. I knew the set-up would work for the final day and I also knew that I could be fast in those conditions.
As it turned out, I got ahead in the very first stage on Sunday – when Andreas had a spin – and at the finish I was 15.2 seconds ahead. It was good to beat him and the feeling of being able to push and drive so fast was even better. It was great to be quickest in Penllyn (SS18) and I was also pretty pleased with the second best time in Dyfnant 2 (SS17) and the third best time in Clocaenog 2 (SS19), the Power Stage.
All-in-all I enjoyed Rally GB and the decision to switch the events base to North Wales seemed to work. The amount of people out on the stages was incredible and that made for a good atmosphere. So, congratulations to the organisers.