9 February 2014
Rally Sweden: Ostberg learns a lot en-route to third
Mads Ostberg: We have made a lot of progress since Friday. I'm pleased to finish on the podium in Sweden for the fourth year running!
Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT's Mads Ostberg had to 'totally' change his driving style in order to secure third place on Rally Sweden.
Ostberg had been hoping to challenge for the win on the WRC's only 'real' winter event, but struggled initially. However, as the event went on the Norwegian found the groove more and more in his DS3 WRC car and he proved that on the final day.
Indeed not only did he close right up on Volkswagen Motorsport II man Andreas Mikkelsen in second – cutting the gap from 39.4 seconds overnight to just 5.9 at the finish, but he also won two of the final three stages, including the Power Stage.
“We have made a lot of progress since Friday. I'm pleased to finish on the podium in Sweden for the fourth year running!” said Ostberg at the finish. “The three points from the Power Stage are a nice bonus [too]. I feel more and more confident in the car, which is promising for the next few events. We have learned a lot and now I can't wait to tackle the gravel rallies.”
“Yes, I am pleased,” he added, when asked about the weekend in more detail. “It's been good. I was a little bit surprised in the beginning because I felt quite early on the first stage the feeling was not right and I understood very quickly that my dream of fighting for the win would be difficult straight away. But we managed quite quickly to reset and start over again especially for the next day.
“We tried some new things with the car and also during the weekend I was adapting my driving style. To be honest I totally changed my driving style in three days. It's been a good learning curve for me.
“Three days in the car and I feel my driving style is new and I started to get really confident with the car. [As I said] for me it's been a great weekend even though we hoped for a bit more. In the end I am very happy with third position, with the stage times we had today and the Power Stage three points is actually very good. It's very nice to end Rally Sweden like this,” he added.
So how many risks did he take to win the Power Stage? “We have been very safe to be honest, we haven't touched the snowbanks at all and we just continued like we did on the previous stages,” Ostberg noted. “We had a split, which I think was wrong, which said we were plus-three and I thought: 'I must be going far too slowly...' So, I increased the speed and then we were ahead. I think the split was wrong, but maybe we pushed too hard. [But] we ended up with three points and this was good for us.”
Despite his success though, Ostberg said he still hasn't got to grips fully with the Citroen: “I know a lot more about the car and understand a lot more but there is still some work to do and I'm not totally comfortable,” he confirmed. “I was not able to completely change my driving style and find the perfect set-up in three days so we still have some work to do."
Citroen team principal, Yves Matton meanwhile was happy to see Ostberg follow-up his fourth place finish on the Monte with third in Sweden.
“Mads has secured his first podium finish with Citroen on what is more or less his home event. More than the result itself, it's the way that he has tackled the rally that has impressed us the most. He changed his driving style and took a step closer to getting the best out of Citroen DS3 WRC. He did a lot of work with the team and his times throughout the rally are very encouraging,” Matton remarked.
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