M-Sport World Rally Team returnee Mads Østberg has had a busy time over the off season, a change from the Citroen team means that the Norwegian returns to the wheel of a Ford Fiesta RS WRC for the first time since Wales Rally GB in 2013.
Talking about the upcoming Rallye Monte-Carlo and the challenges that lay ahead he said, “Rallye Monte-Carlo is one of the classics. 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!”
A change of machinery isn’t the only thing for Østberg as former Andreas Mikkelsen co-driver Ola Fløene joins him a year earlier than expected. The partnership is more of a re-aquatence though with the pair having previously raced togeting in 2004.
“This will also be the first time – in a long time – that Ola and I will sit together in competition. 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.
“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!” he added.
Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE believes that this could be a good showing on the opening round, “This is definitely Mads’ strongest Tarmac event and he has proven that he has the ability to do well here. I am sure that he and Ola will get into their rhythm very quickly and I see no reason why they can’t be challenging for the podium positions throughout the course of the weekend.”
M-Sport also confirmed today that they have their full budget for the season in place after weeks of rumours suggesting they would not be able to compete at all rallies, putting the teams status as a manufacturer under question. The latest news means that the team will be able to attend and take part in the full 2016 FIA World Rally Championship season.