Mads Ostberg says he's approaching his first outing since returning to M-Sport for 2016 with caution and is hoping for snowy conditions to give him an advantage.
The Norwegian rally driver left Citroen after a two-year partnership when the factory pulled out of this year's World Rally Championship to concentrate on its 2017 challenger ahead of the regulations revamp.
Ostberg re-joins M-Sport who he competed for in 2011 and 2013 and the Ford Fiesta RS WRC rally car in which he claimed his maiden WRC event victory at 2012's Rally de Portugal.
In three previous attempts at Rallye Monte Carlo Ostberg has narrowly missed out on the rostrum on two occasions and although he's ruled out a specific target in his first WRC event with M-Sport in two years he hopes for a challenging event with snowy conditions to throw up some surprises.
“Rallye Monte-Carlo is one of the classics,” Ostberg said. “It's a fantastic rally with some great stages but the amount of challenges that we have to face over the course of the weekend is unbelievable.
“You can never learn this event – it's different every time you're there and I think that will be the same again this year. It's a rally that I enjoy, but when you're preparing you have no idea what challenges you are actually going to be faced with. Personally, I'll be hoping for lots of snow and a lot of difficult tyre choices.
“I feel as though I'm well prepared and we have had some really good tests over the last couple of months. I think that we will be able to fight for a good result – but it doesn't have to be too good as we also want a good road position ahead of a big push at Rally Sweden!”
As well as a return to M-Sport and Ford, Ostberg is also reconnecting with former co-driver Ola Floene who were last paired together 12 years ago. The duo have been working closely together over the winter and although Ostberg feels it will take time to forge the perfect partnership he is confident it won't affect their performance at this year's WRC season-opener.
“This will also be the first time in a long time that Ola and I will sit together in competition,” he said. “It always takes a while to fine-tune a new partnership as everything has to be perfect, but honestly, I don't think it will cause us any problems.
“We've not done a rally together since 2004, but so far everything is working really well. It has been a lot of work for us as Ola has had to translate all of the pacenotes into proper Norwegian, but both of us are really happy with the way things are going and I'm confident that we will make a strong team.”