Following a six-week break the M-Sport World Rally Team are heading to Rally Argentina for the latest round of the FIA World Rally Championship and both drivers are looking forward to getting back behind the wheel of the Ford Fiesta RS WRCs.
Mads Østberg and Éric Camilli both completed a two-day pre-event test at M-Sport’s private testing facility at Greystoke forest, ganing valuable seat time ahead of one of the most challenging rallies of the year.
During the break Østberg also took part in the Rally Islas Canarias El Corte Inglés but was forced to retire on SS7 following an accident. The Norwegian will be looking to put that behind him and regain the success of 2015 which saw him secure second place in the 2015 Rally Argentina.
“Sometimes it can be nice to recharge the batteries, but now I cannot wait to get back behind the wheel in competition.” said Østberg. “Rally Argentina is such a vibrant event and the fans there have such a passion for motorsport so that will be a really welcome return!
“Argentina has a real variation of stages. There are some incredibly fast, sandy roads but there are also some twistier, more technical sections and it’s important to have the right set-up for each type of stage. I was really pleased with the set-up of the Fiesta in Mexico, so hopefully we can build on that this week.
“We’ve had a string of strong results over the opening three events and I want to continue that. At the same time however, I always want to be challenging for the top positions. We have more speed to give and we want to show that in Argentina.”
Despite having no competitive experience of Rally Argentina, team-mate Camilli heads in to the event with some knowledge of the area after completing the pre-event reconnaissance last year, “This will be another new event for us, but we actually did the recce last year so I have some knowledge of what to expect.” said the Frenchman.
“Argentina is also an amazing country and everyone there has a big passion for the sport so I am really excited to be going back.
“I think the event will be a lot like Mexico. Some of the stages are very fast but others are quite narrow and technical and the route can also be quite rough. There is a lot of variation so it is important to have the right set-up for each stage.
“Myself and Benjamin have worked really hard over the break so that we can be as prepared as possible going forward. I feel as though we understand the nature of the WRC events a bit more now – about the rhythm that we need to take and the level that is required to do well – and that should hopefully be a benefit to us.
“Our target will be to maintain a good rhythm through all of the stages, avoid the traps and make it to the finish.”
Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE will be missing the event due to other commitments but will still be keeping a watchful eye over his drivers. “This is the first event that I’ve ever missed, but I’ll be analysing all of the stage times and sending through my comments as usual.” said Wilson.
“Argentina is a notoriously difficult event. The stages are amongst some of the roughest we encounter all year and it’s important for the teams to produce a strong car and for the drivers to keep their wits about them. From past experience, we know that the Fiesta is a strong car, and I believe that our drivers have the ability to deliver their targets.
“Mads has performed well here in the past, and if everything goes to plan, I would expect him to be fighting towards the sharp end of the field once again. We know that he is an exceptionally consistent driver and his second place in the championship proves that, but we also know that he has more speed that he wants to show.
“This will be another new event for Éric, but having done the recce here last year he won’t be going completely into the unknown. His road position means that he will have to be extra vigilant as rocks can easily be pulled onto the driving line, but his target remains the same – to complete all of the stages unscathed and gain the maximum experience.
M-Sport will also run three Fiesta RS WRCs for Ott Tänak, Lorenzo Bertelli and Henning Solberg this weekend in addition to Østberg, Camilli and Evans.