Norwegian duo Mads Ostberg
and Henning Solberg
secured the M-Sport Stobart
Ford WRC team an unlikely double podium through the famous forest stages of Wales Rally GB after taking full advantage of a number of big name casualties.
The Cumbrian based teams success didn't end there as team mate Matthew Wilson
also followed up his team's double podium with a respectable fifth place – a career best on home soil, contributing to the major point's haul Rally GB has offered M-Sport.
All three of the Stobart
backed Fiesta's had looked competitive for points from the outset while Ostberg always looked the dominant force within the M-Sport team.
The younger Norwegians journey to the podium looked relatively trouble free as the Norwegian National champion seemed to adopt the perfect strategy of allowing the rally to come to him as a number of big names who occupied the top positions slowly dwindled away. Ostberg due fully picked up the pieces with little hesitation and was able to nurse his Fiesta home to a seemingly easy joint career best of second – finishing the season exactly how he started.
“I am so happy right now," he said. "This is the perfect end to the season and to finish on the podium alongside Henning [Solberg] and Jari-Matti [Latvala] who are such nice guys is even better!
"We pushed a lot to gain some positions on Friday and we managed to get through the last two days to move even further up the leaderboard. It's been an up and down year but overall I think everything has gone well."
Solberg's run to the podium wasn't quite as straightforward, with the brother of 2003 world champion Petter Solberg
always looking the more vulnerable to an attack after running at least a minute further back from his team mate and never able to produce the same pace. Despite the nerve jangling charge for the podium from MINI's Kris Meeke, the elder Norwegian held on valiantly for his first podium since Rally Poland in 2009 by a mere 1.8 seconds.
“It was a good fight with Kris [Meeke] today," he said. "I tried to keep calm and just look at the times to make sure we could try to stay ahead. I am very, very happy to finish on the podium and it's my first time alongside Ilka, so that is really good.
"It's great to see eight Fords in the final top ten and it's even more amazing to have two podium spots going to Norway!"
Like his team mates Wilson again allowed the rally to come to him, approaching each stage in a calm manner and running a sensible but competitive pace. A strategy proving to be invaluable on a rally which again proved to be predictably unpredictable – which saw both works Citroens of Sebastian Loeb and Sebastian Ogier fall foul of the challenging conditions along with Citroen
privateer Petter Solberg
while Ford's Mikko Hirvonen
and MINI's Dani Sordo were also claimed by the notorious Welsh forests. The son of M-Sport and the works Ford team principal reaped the rewards with his fifth place, rounding off a strong season for the Brit.