The M-Sport Stobart team secured a double points finish on the second round of the World Rally Championship season in Mexico, despite a difficult weekend for nominated scorers Mads Ostberg and Henning Solberg.
Ostberg headed to Mexico on the back of a stunning run to second place in Sweden, but was keen to play down expectations going into his first event on Mexican soil.
A puncture on Friday cost him valuable time and dropped the youngster down the order but a steady and consistent approach through the remainder of the event enabled him to climb back up to fifth place by the finish as others fell foul of the tricky conditions.
“I didn't feel like taking any risks today, our result was more than we had hoped for,” he said at the finish of the event on Sunday. “We gave away some positions after our puncture on Friday and we won some back today and yesterday so that is good. You cannot expect to come to a rally like this without much experience and to be at the top.
“The character of the roads was so changeable with some very different types of gravel. It is all about learning where you can push and how to drive on those types of conditions. We have come here to gain experience of every stage, to improve our pacenotes and to learn as much as we can for future years. We really didn't expect to finish this rally in this position so we are very happy.”
Team-mate Henning Solberg was forced to battle against power steering failure on the second day of the event on Saturday and then encountered further issues on the final day – which included the need to change the alternator belt on his Fiesta RS WRC prior to stage 21.
Despite the problems, which led to him suggesting he would be forced to retire on Saturday, the elder Solberg brother secured sixth place with the combined points helping the M-Sport Stobart team to retain third in the manufacturers' championship.
“I had a problem with my right brake cylinder this morning which I tried to repair for the power stage,” he said. “This is how things go in rallying but we've managed to stay on the road. I tried my best just to finish and for sure, I have learned a lot about the car this weekend. We wanted to make a big push in the power stage and to go flat out but we will have to wait until Portugal now. We had to change the alternator belt on the road section to Stage 21 so we were late into the stage but everything else was OK. I'm glad to have finished in this position and it is a good result for the team.”