Mon 14 Aug 2023

ERC silver not gold for reset Østberg

Mads Østberg will have his sights firmly set on silver not gold when Barum Czech Rally Zlín hosts the penultimate round of the 2023 FIA European Rally Championship this weekend.

Østberg has slipped out of the title fight but remains firmly in contention to finish runner-up in the final standings in the MRF Tyres Dealer Team Citroën C3 Rally2 he shares with co-driver Patrik Barth.

However, he must first take on the challenge of Zlín’s testing Tarmac stages, which he’ll encounter for the first time later this week.

“This rally is new for me so again it will be a bit of discovery, let’s say, but we have obviously prepared from videos and what we can find from onboards,” the Norwegian ace explained. “And we will have done one drive day in Hungary before the rally so it should hopefully help us a bit with our preparation.”

Østberg took advantage of the ERC rules that allow crews to drop one score out of a possible eight during the course of the season by skipping last month’s Rally di Roma Capitale. The 35-year-old hopes it’s a case of absence makes the car go faster.

“We felt it was necessary to skip Rome to be better prepared,” Østberg said. “It has given us the opportunity to completely rebuild the car, to reset a bit and to focus on the two last rallies, which should be something we have experience of from Hungary last year. Even though Barum is not Hungary, it’s very similar to the rallies we have done there so we feel like we have a good setting and I feel at home on the stages. But, of course, we have to discover the rally so we focus on trying to be fast.”

The one-time WRC event winner continued: “Obviously the championship is quite decided on the win but we are still fighting for the second position and that’s our focus at the moment. Hayden [Paddon] has been so strong all the year and he really deserves [the title] and I would be happy to congratulate him after the weekend. But we will focus on the silver, on having a good rally and trying to improve our setting, our rhythm and our pace and we will see how the rally goes. We have a good feeling so I am looking forward to going there.”

Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 7:00:00 AM
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM