Mads Ostberg was 'quite pleased' to finish in the top-five on his debut on Rally Australia last weekend.
The Qatar M-Sport World Rally Team driver wasn't happy with his pace-notes on Friday morning and in the afternoon he suffered a major scare in SS8, when he hit a big rock and the drivers' door flew open.
He still finished the day sixth, however, and climbed to fifth the following day, just 1.1 seconds behind Jari-Matti Latvala, when he ran wide in SS14, Valla 2 – the final 'proper' test of the day - and hit a bank and spun.
That cost him a good 20 seconds - and a place on the leaderboard - although he got back ahead of Andreas Mikkelsen the following day and in the end secured P5 with ease, despite getting a puncture in Bucca 2.
“It has been an interesting weekend. We have learned so much about this event and it was quite different to what we expected – even after the recce,” said the Crash.net columnist
after round ten in the 2013 World Rally Championship. “The first day was very difficult for us because the pacenotes weren't working as they should and we had no confidence which you could see from the times. But we learnt a lot – changing the pacenotes and the set-up to make a real step forward on Saturday. Then we had some good speed and were close to the top drivers even considering our position on the road.
“On Sunday we tried altering the set-up a little bit more, but I think we went a bit too far. We managed to comfortably climb back up to fifth though, even with a puncture on SS20. In the end we managed a top-five result on our first time here, so I am quite pleased with that. It was better for us to back off [and get that than risk going off] and the result was a positive. I'm happy to be at the end now.”
Team-mates Thierry Neuville and Evgeny Novikov meanwhile finished second and seventh respectively in the sister M-Sport-run Fiesta RS WRC cars, the former again impressing en-route
to his sixth podium
of the season.
Novikov in contrast, was hampered by his road position on Friday, but had a trouble-free run to seventh – and earned a bonus point for setting the third fastest time in the Power Stage.
“The rally has been okay,” said the Russian. “We scored some points and most importantly we finished all of the stages without any mistakes. It was very difficult with the road position – the stages were very slippery and it was difficult to challenge for the top positions.
"But I think that we improved our pace throughout the rally. We set some good times on Sunday afternoon and secured a point in the Power Stage with third. Now, we need to concentrate on the next events and making more progress.”