Thu 09 May 2024

Late progress gets Østberg back on track in ERC

Mads Østberg reckons progress made in the closing stages of Rally Islas Canarias ensured round two of the 2024 FIA European Rally Championship wasn’t a wasted outing.

Fully recovered from the illness that prevented him from starting V-Híd Rally Hungary last month, Østberg had to settle for eighth position aboard his Michelin-equipped Citroën C3 Rally2 following a challenging event.  

“Coming into the rally we almost had no testing at all and with new tyres and settings to the car we just had to put it on and cross fingers we could drive it like that at the start and that was the start of everything,” Østberg explained. “We had some things we were not sure of after the Qualifying Stage and because we couldn’t try it, we went back to the older spec to be on the safe side. That’s obviously not optimal and then we had to manage a power issue for the first day and into [the final] morning. I also had to work on the road section to make the car ready for the first stage [of leg two] and obviously I would rather have focused on the performance and the driving rather than these other things.”  

He continued: “We found the brake balance of the car was completely out, we don’t know how but we changed all the brakes [on Friday] and the brake balance was out. Normally I can control myself, but it was a stressful morning with some repairs on the road section. More than one thing going wrong at the same time it’s never good in a rally when everything needs to be perfect. I managed to change it before the last stage [of the morning loop] and at least I got the feeling back but it was a bit of a hard weekend with too many small things upsetting a bit the flow we were trying to keep.”

But with his TRT Rally Team-run Citroën restored to full working order for the deciding afternoon, Østberg was able to enjoy a trouble-free final loop alongside co-driver Patrik Barth.  

“For sure it’s nice to feel the progress we’ve had now when everything is working,” he said. “We need to take this rally as a lesson. It’s the first rally for us in the ERC [this season]. We didn’t come prepared, but we have to learn, we have to look forward to Sweden now, prepare properly and make sure everything is perfect.”

Back in action after Hungary non-start
Mads Østberg’s return to action on Rally Islas Canarias after he missed the ERC season opener in Hungary through illness was one of the feelgood stories of the Gran Canaria weekend.   

The ERC title contender was a non-starter in Hungary after he was hospitalised with a lung infection on the morning of the event getting under way. Although he was soon in recovery mode, he was forced to withdraw from the Veszprém-based round on medical advice.  

“I feel good, it was some hard weeks for sure but since last week I felt really back to normal and was looking forward to this rally,” he said before the start in Las Palmas. “It will not affect anything but normally I can train quite well going into an event but I haven’t been on any physical training for the last three weeks so I feel a bit lazy. But for sure when you get in the car and the helmet is on everything is back to normal.”   

Østberg will be back on ERC duty when the Swedish city of Karlstad hosts BAUHAUS Royal Rally of Scandinavia from 13 - 15 June.

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