WRC A FULL 2016
ØSTBERG TAKES FIFTH IN SPAIN.
M-Sport World Rally Team’s Mads Østberg and Ola Fløene secured a comfortable fifth place behind the wheel of their Ecoboost-powered Ford Fiesta RS WRC at this weekend’s RallyRACC Catalunya – Costa Daurada.
16 Oct 2016
Despite enduring the worst of the conditions through the opening gravel stages, the Norwegians finished the loose-surface tests just 20 seconds shy of the podium; and remained satisfied on Tarmac having taken their new strategy a step further.
Focusing on smoother lines and a more precise style, Østberg’s new approach to asphalt driving is starting to pay dividends. He showcased an improvement from the first to second pass yesterday, and posted some encouraging split times throughout today’s final stages.
As with any new style, it will take some time to perfect, but Østberg is pleased with his progression which bodes well for the future. Now it’s time to look ahead, and a return to gravel has the Norwegian in a buoyant mood as focus turns to one of his favoured events – Wales Rally GB.
In the sister M-Sport Fiesta RS WRC, the opening gravel sections allowed Éric Camilli to gain vital knowledge of conditions he had not previously experienced. As the Spanish fixture turned to Tarmac, the Frenchman showed good progress through the circuit-like stages.
Regaining confidence throughout yesterday morning, he and co-driver Benjamin Veillas displayed a marked increase in pace with times much closer to those of the leading pack. He had hoped to develop that speed over the second pass but was halted by transmission issues which prevented him from contesting the afternoon loop.
Restarting under Rally 2 regulations, the pairing had no choice but to use the gravel transmission which houses ratios not suited to the smooth asphalt. Despite the disadvantage, they refused to let that stand in the way of progress.
Proving what advantages experience can yield, the pairing put all of their knowledge from the first pass into practice for the second and made considerable advances. Having learnt and perfected much, they gained 0.75 seconds per kilometre on Pratdip (SS16 and SS18).
As the FIA World Rally Championship returns to gravel for the final two events of the year, Camilli will focus on showing similar progress whilst collating the experience that will prove vital to his 2017 campaign.
Elsewhere, there was good news in the support classes as Hungarian Frigyes Turan delivered a fantastic performance behind the wheel of his Ford Fiesta R5 to secure his first WRC 2 podium of the year.
In the RC4 class, Spain’s Nil Solans proved the pace of M-Sport’s one-litre Ecoboost-powered Ford Fiesta R2 by winning 13 out of a possible 19 stages.
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Mads Østberg (5th) said:
“It’s really satisfying to see that this new strategy is starting to pay off. There has been a lot of work over the last two rallies – and that will continue – but it’s always nice to see everything come together in a single stage.
“We experienced that on the last stage today [SS19] and I was quite happy that we managed to do it. It still wasn’t a 100 percent perfect stage, but it’s certainly getting there. I’ll have to see the report from my coach before I can say that it was very good, but it felt good and it’s almost a shame that we’re heading back to gravel now!
“But, Wales Rally GB is an event that I am definitely looking forward to. It’s a little bit earlier this year and we might see a dry event which would be fantastic! I’ve done it in the dry once before and that was really amazing. I hope it will be dry, but if it’s wet I don’t mind either! I’m looking forward to it a lot.”
Éric Camilli (19th) said:
“It was a shame about the technical issues we had but these things happen and it wasn’t a bad weekend by all means. We’ve been able to gain a lot of new experiences and really improve our driving on Tarmac.
“We took a lot of pleasure from these stages – the most that we have taken on Tarmac all year – and we will remember it with smiles on our faces. It’s so important to have this feeling ahead of next year. Of course the cars will be different, and maybe the pacenotes too, but we have the experience and we can build on that.”
Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“A solid result from Mads this weekend means that we’re back into the top-three in the manufacturers’ championship which is really important. It was a shame about the technical issues for Éric, but he’s gained a lot of experience which will be key to his future progression. The target now will be to improve further as we head to our home rally at Wales Rally GB.”
RESULTS AFTER RALLY DE ESPANA*
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