Fresh from his recent victory in the Rally Portugal, Mads Ostberg will be in a Group N car for the first time this week as he competes in the Talsi Rally in Latvia this weekend.
"The Group N car is a new experience but I actually enjoyed it a lot," said Ostberg after his first taste at the wheel of the MML Sports Mitsubishi Lancer EvolutionX Gp N on Friday, ahead of the 2012 Rally of Champions event.
"The car is huge and everything is a bit slower but it is good fun - you can drive it quite smoothly and it's like dancing with the car," he added. "It feels really good and I'm impressed by it."
Ostberg is currently in fourth place in the 2012 FIA World Rally Championship, and is the reigning Norwegian Rally Champion, but he admitted that the Group N car was very different from his regular Ford Fiesta World Rally Car.
"I have no idea what is quick in a Group N car and what is slow, so we will just drive as quick as we can. At the moment, I cannot drive any quicker," he said.
He added that he was lacking anyone to benchmark himself against at this stage.
"There were no other Group N cars at the test, so we don't have any other times to compare," he pointed out. "During the event we will learn more about the car and I hope I can fight for the win but it's a big challenge."
John Easton, the managing director of MML Sports, was pleased and impressed by what he'd seen from Ostberg so far.
"Mads was instantly very comfortable in the car. We made a few set-up changes and he seemed very happy," he said. "As it's his first time in a Group N car, we aren't sure of his pace but the pre-event shakedown will be a good opportunity to see how his times are.
"Mads is a very nice guy; very easy to work with, a very good understanding of the car and the set-up changes we made and seems very happy in the Lancer."
This year's Rally of Champions at the Talsi Rally will see six national rally champions fight for honours on the third round of the 2012 Latvian Rally Championship. The event features five stages on Saturday 12 May and a further five stages on Sunday 13.