Qatar M-Sport World Rally Team driver Mads Ostberg has expressed his disappointment and frustration after having to retire from day two of Rally Mexico while running in a strong second place.
Ostberg had been the only one anywhere near runaway rally leader, Sebastien Ogier on Friday and he even briefly held the lead in the morning after SS4 and SS5.
However, Saturday did not go to plan and after completing the first pass of Ibarrilla, the Norwegian reported an issue with the clutch on his Fiesta RS WRC car. Despite that though, he was still second fastest in SS14, but then on the liaison section to SS15, his car suffered an electrical fault and he had to stop.
Ostberg will now restart on Saturday under the Rally 2 regulations and his focus will be on the all important Power Stage, with bonus points on offer to the top-three finishers.
“The clutch didn't feel quite right off the start line [of SS14], but we didn't realise that there was a problem until we got into the more technical part of the stage. You need to use the clutch on hairpins, and when I pushed it to the floor, nothing happened. It was a bit of an inconvenience, but we were in a strong second position and that wasn't going to be us out of the rally,” explained the Crash.net
“But then on the road section to SS15 we had a warning on the dash and five minutes later, that was it. It was an electrical problem and we had no power going to the engine. It was just one small problem, but sometimes it's the same ones that can have the biggest impact.
“Obviously this is very disappointing for us. We were taking time out of Mikko [Hirvonen] and on target for a good result – not only in the rally but in the championship too.
“There are still a lot of positives to take from the event though and I think we proved that we are capable of setting a very good pace. It's just frustrating and you need to let yourself feel the disappointment before you clear your head and start again.”
Qatar M-Sport World Rally Team boss Malcolm Wilson meanwhile apologised to his lead driver for the technical issue.
“The entire team is extremely disappointed for Mads. He was having a fantastic rally and I'm only sorry that the car let him down this time,” Wilson added. “I have now doubt that he'll bounce back tomorrow and he'll certainly be a real contender for the Power Stage.”