Mads Ostberg 'definitely wants to be fighting for a top-three result' on Wales Rally GB and he has vowed to push to the 'maximum' in a bid to achieve it.
The Qatar M-Sport World Rally Team pilot has had a rather difficult season and despite finishing in the points in every event – bar Mexico – has only managed two rostrums, with third in Sweden at the start of the year and third again in Finland back in the summer.
Wales though, is an event he knows well, and having tackled the event on seven previous occasions, it is fair to say the Norwegian considers it a bit of a home-from-home. The 26-year-old also knows how to get the best out of the Ford Fiesta RS WRC through the forest tracks. Indeed Ostberg aided a clean sweep of the podium for M-Sport in 2011 when he piloted his Fiesta to an impressive second place overall and he would dearly love to repeat that this coming weekend.
“I think it is fair to say that Wales Rally GB feels a bit like home to me. The roads and the surface are very similar to what we see in Norway and I have been here many times before which always helps. It is definitely one of my favourite events of the year,” said the Crash.net columnist
ahead of the final round in the 2013 World Rally Championship
“I don't think that there is a secret to doing well here though, it is just a case of feeling comfortable and confident with the conditions,” he added. “The stages suit my driving style and it is in the really tricky, slippery conditions where I think we can show just how competitive we can be. I definitely want to be fighting for a top-three position this week, and we will be pushing to the maximum to achieve that.”
Team-mate Evgeny Novikov meanwhile will be taking in his fifth Wales Rally GB - his best result to date a sixth place in 2012, although he also finished seventh in 2011. With two-top five results under his belt though, in France and Spain - the two previous WRC events, he is keen to replicate that in Wales and keep the run going.
“I started my WRC career at this event in 2007, so it holds a lot of good memories for me. I have also competed here quite a few times before and this year I want to secure my best result from the event. Ilka [Minor, my co-driver] and I have had some good top-five finishes recently, and we want to continue that in Wales,” confirmed the Russian.
“For a driver, the most challenging aspect of the rally is the constant change of grip. It can be really muddy and slippery in places, and with the weather being so unpredictable you need to be really focussed and judge the grip levels accordingly. Quite a lot of the stages will be new to us this year too, so we will need to have a really good recce to ensure we are fully prepared.”