Having admitted he would be taking things easy in Mexico, Mads Ostberg has vowed to push for a top five finish in the third round of the WRC season in Portugal this weekend.
The M-Sport Stobart Ford driver followed up his stunning second place in Sweden with fifth in Mexico as he made the most of problems to affect other drivers, which means he sits in a solid fourth place in the championship standings.
Having competed in Portugal a number of times in the past, Ostberg said he was keen to try and keep his strong start to the year going and will aim to improve on his best finish on Portuguese soil of sixth – which he achieved back in 2009.
“Since the last WRC round, I've been busy training and we had a DC sponsor event on Saturday in Trysil where we did a 38.5 metre jump, it was brilliant fun and there were loads of people there,” he said. “Now I must focus on Portugal - it will be my fourth time there and I'm really looking forward to it as it's definitely one of my favourite rallies. The stages are mostly the same as last year and they are a lot of fun to drive.
“It'll be different from Mexico as I was trying to learn as much as I could at that event, but this time I will be wanting to push a lot more as I already know the stages. I want to get closer to the factory drivers at this rally so I'll be looking to set some fast times from the outset and I'll be aiming for a top-five finish.”
Ostberg will once again be joined as a nominated scorer for the Stobart team by Henning Solberg, who said he was also targeting a top five finish on a event where he expects to be stronger than in Mexico earlier in the month.
“We've come from a really tough event so it'll be good to go to Portugal where I will feel a lot more confident and I'm more familiar with the roads,” he said. “Most of the stages this year are the same as last year which will definitely help and take some of the pressure off when it comes to the recce. The rally is also a couple of months earlier than usual so the weather should be a lot cooler and the conditions on the roads will be less dusty.
“It'll be strange having Shakedown on the Wednesday afternoon but the new stage in Lisbon will hopefully be worth the change to the schedule. We can challenge a top-five result next week and as always I will work as hard as I can to get some good points for the team.”