Mads Ostberg has said he will go to Rally de Portugal next month 'hungrier than ever' following his disappointment in Mexico.
The Qatar M-Sport World Rally Team driver drove brilliantly on the opening day in Leon and was the only one anywhere near eventual winner, Sebastien Ogier.
However his challenge came to a premature end on Saturday morning when his Fiesta RS WRC car developed an electrical problem en-route
to SS15, the second stage of the day. That issue forced the Norwegian out and while he could re-start on Sunday under the Rally 2 regulations, any hopes of a top result were gone, although he did still do enough in the Power Stage to claim the second best time and two crucial drivers' points.
He also scored two points for the Qatar M-Sport WRT in the Manufacturers' Championship as well and was eventually classified in eleventh place overall.
“This rally has been very disappointing for us. Before the problem on Saturday we were setting a really good pace and on course for a top position. But that's how it is and there's nothing we can do about it now,” said Ostberg philosophically.
“It is for sure a shame, but as I said, we were setting a really good pace, as I think you can see from the Power Stage. Even being second on the road we managed to set the second fastest time and that is a real positive for us going forward. We know that the speed is there and now more than ever we are hungry for a good result so we will definitely be pushing for that in Portugal!”
M-Sport boss, Malcolm Wilson is confident his number one driver will come back stronger on the next event in the Algarve.
“Obviously Mads' problem yesterday was a real blow for the team, but I was extremely impressed with his performance on the Power Stage. To set a time like that with the road position he had was incredible and I know that he will be back as focused and as determined as ever in Portugal,” Wilson confirmed.
Meanwhile, Ostberg's team-mate, Evgeny Novikov
also had a tough weekend and he lost almost 12 minutes in SS3 and SS4 on Friday after a rock pierced the underfloor of his Fiesta RS WRC and damaged the ECU.
That dropped him right out of contention – and left him in 23rd position – although he did haul himself back up and eventually took tenth and the final drivers' point.
“The problem on Friday was a real shame because I think we could have had some good pace here and really challenged for a good result,” Novikov stated. “We had to run first on the road for most of the event [after that], so we were not able to show the speed we were capable of.
“But this is a tough rally and these things can so easily happen. It's just a shame that we were the unlucky ones this time.
“But we have gained a lot of good experience for next year and managed to salvage some points for the championship – every little helps!”