The Stobart M-Sport Ford Rally Team has changed its name to the M-Sport Stobart Ford World Rally Team for the 2011 World Rally Championship (WRC) as it prepares to embark upon its sixth season in the series – and it will run with an all-Norwegian points-chasing line-up on the curtain-raising Rally Sweden next month.
New-signing Mads Østberg will join regular drivers Henning Solberg and Matthew Wilson at the Malcolm Wilson-led operation, and he and Solberg are the two nominated points-scorers for the Karlstad-based event that begins on 11 February. All three drivers will be behind the wheel of the new Ford Fiesta RS WRC, with only Wilson not eligible to score in Sweden.
Østberg had initially planned to compete under the Adapta World Rally Team banner this year prior to agreeing terms to join forces with M-Sport and Stobart, and along with co-driver Jonas Andersson, the 23-year-old will have the opportunity to test the Fiesta ahead of the rally. Several Norwegian outings are also in the pipeline, as is a testing programme in a normally-aspirated Super 2000 version of the car.
“I'm really looking forward to this season, and to start on Rally Sweden is ideal,” enthused Østberg, who has never previously been nominated as a manufacturers' points-scorer. “Jonas is Swedish, and the country is my second homeland. We have our family summer house there, I did my first youth rally in Sweden, I won my first rally in Sweden, I did my first WRC rally in Sweden, I won my first special stage in the WRC in Sweden...
“What can be better than starting my Ford career, and my first rally as a nominated team driver, in Sweden? I am delighted to be a part of the M-Sport Stobart Ford World Rally Team, and very happy to have Henning and Matthew as our team-mates.”