Qatar M-Sport World Rally Team leader Mads Ostberg has said he will be targeting victory on Rally Sweden this week, what is effectively his home event.
Ostberg made a solid start on his Rallye Monte Carlo debut last month by finishing in sixth place and ahead of the second round in the 2013 World Rally Championship, which gets underway on Thursday, he warmed up for it by winning Rally Finnskog last weekend in his native Norway following a good scrap with Andreas Mikkelsen.
Buoyed by that and by a substantial pre-event test, he is bullish about his prospects with the Fiesta RS WRC car.
“I am definitely feeling confident ahead of this rally,” Ostberg said prior
to his win on Rally Finnskog. “We had a really good test on Friday and we'll also be doing a rally in Norway this weekend where we can build on everything we learnt during the test – improve set-up and basically just see how far we can push the limits.
“The conditions will be a lot similar to what we experienced on the test. There's due to be a little more snow over the weekend, but if that snow disappears and the gravel gets exposed it is going to be really tricky. It will mean that we'll have to really look after the tyres because they could easily lose their studs.”
“But all in all I think we are really well prepared for this event and well placed for a strong result. We want to win. That's our goal and that's what we'll be pushing for,” added Mads, who has made the podium on both of his two previous Rally Sweden outings.
Evgeny Novikov meanwhile will drive the other car entered under the Qatar M-Sport WRT banner. The Russian looked set for a podium on the Monte, until he got caught out by the treacherous conditions on the final day. He will now be keen to open his account and having finished fifth on his Sweden debut in 2012, he is also upbeat.
“I have a really good feeling ahead of this event. I hear the conditions are really special. The other crews have told me that it's really cold and that the ground is good so I'm looking forward to the fight!” he stated.
“We'll have to wait and see what the conditions are like on the actual rally, but I would imagine that we'll have to work hard to find the right balance between speed and tyre wear. This is a really fast rally so the trick is to lose as little time as possible whilst safeguarding the tyres on the exposed gravel. But there are of course five days before the rally starts so we will have to wait and see what it is like.
“We showed in Monte-Carlo that we have the speed to compete with those at the very top. So I'm ready for the fight and ready to bring some strong points home for the team,” he concluded.