Mon 09 Oct 2023

Hungary ERC win keeps Østberg’s fire burning

Mads Østberg admitted he’d contemplated calling time on his career prior to his victory on the 2023 FIA European Rally Championship season decider in Hungary yesterday.

The Norwegian has endured a challenging first full ERC campaign having started the season as one of the title favourites.  

But the frustration caused by a recent run of off-key results was forgotten when Østberg celebrated his second ERC career win – his first since Rally Hungary in 2021 – in Nyíregyháza on Sunday evening.   

And he revealed afterwards that there is a “great chance” he will return to the ERC in 2024.   

“It’s been a very hard season to the point that I think to myself do I bother to do this anymore,” the 35-year-old Norwegian said. “At the same time when everything comes together it’s really enjoyable, I have a lot of fun and I have had a lot of fun this weekend, so it was really great to be here and to end the rally like that.

“Of course I am sorry for Mixi [Csomós] who ended the rally in a tree but we kept the pressure on him during the weekend, even though there was some gap. We knew things could happen in such a long and hard rally and it happened to us as well with a puncture [on SS10]. But, unfortunately, he went off on the second to last stage. Okay, that’s how it is, we know rallying and we can be happy with what we have done this weekend.”  

Although Østberg had taken his Citroën C3 Rally2 to second place in Fafe and third in Liepāja, the lack of a win meant he was outside the championship top two starting the Rally Hungary finale and in need of a boost.  

“For myself I felt I had to win it,” he said. “I was really considering what I wanted to do from here, and when the season is like this, [I think to myself] I have done this too long and I don’t bother anymore. I have achieved a lot in my career and I don’t need to do this again. But it’s great fun and I love to do rally, I love the people in the service park so for myself I think I needed [this win] to carry on.”

Østberg capped his Rally Hungary victory by registering his second Power Stage win of the season. He explained why he pushed during the final 12.63 kilometres of the year.  

“I’ve enjoyed the whole weekend, we have had some good speed but without any big risk or big drama,” he said. “The speed we have been going the whole event has been quite stable I would say and I saw no point to get out of the rhythm on the last stage. We wanted to have fun for the last kilometres that we were doing this year and that’s how we enjoy.”  

Of his 2024 plans, Østberg added: “I think there is a great chance we will come back next year.”

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