Despite securing a fifth place finish at the 2016 Rally Argentina, Mads Østberg and the M-Sport World Rally Team believe that they could have done much better having headed in to the rally weekend chasing a podium place.
“I think that we’ve been driving well and we pushed really hard on some of the stages.” said Østberg. “It’s fair to say that we were all hoping for more, so we have some work to do to understand why the times aren’t there.”
Østberg and co-driver Ola Fløene battled through the rally which saw competitors face thick fog and challenging terrain, despite their best efforts they were outpaced a number of times by the DMACK entered Ford Fiesta RS WRC of Ott Tänak.
“Having hoped to be challenging for a third successive podium, it’s been a disappointing weekend for us.” said team principal Malcolm Wilson. “We know that Mads is capable of more and, if you look at the times of Ott [Tänak], we know that the car is too. Mads is driving well, but the times aren’t there so we need to understand his issues and work to find a solution before Portugal.”
With Hayden Paddon taking victory in Argentina and leap frogging the Norwegian in the drivers championship, Østberg heads back to Europe in third place.
Team-mate Eric Camilli was tasked with getting through the weekend without mistake, a rough start to the year meant that the M-Sport team were keen on him to concentrate on completing the event rather than pushing too hard and making a mistake on his first visit to Argentina.
“We took everything step-by-step and I think that we improved a lot and also learnt a lot along the way.” said the Frenchman. “This is a very difficult event and we need to work hard to improve our pace on these kinds of stages. We can do more, but I need to learn where it is safe to push and where I need to drive more carefully.”
With Rally Argentina out of the way, Camilli heads back to the familiar territory of Europe and he admits that he is much happier.
“Now I’m really looking forward to going back to Europe and to experiencing some events that I know. Of course it will not be easy as a lot of things are still quite new to us, but everything is getting better and better and we are looking forward.”
Wilson was happy with Camilli’s performance, “Eric did exactly what was asked of him this weekend and he can return to Europe in a positive frame of mind. We need to remember that this is still only the ninth gravel rally of his career and he set some very encouraging times – especially through the fog on El Condor which is something that he has never experienced before. He’s on the right track, and I’m confident he can show further progress once we return to Europe.”