Mads Østberg bags final podium spot in Australia
"It wasn’t easy to come back after two months on the sofa"
Mads Østberg and Torstein Eriksen successfully negotiated the many difficulties posed by Sunday’s tricky final leg to claim a fine third place. In doing so, they built on the team’s win at the last round in Spain and confirmed its strong second part of the season! Meanwhile, Craig Breen and Scott Martin finished seventh overall.
Forecast to hit the stages for several days, rain finally put in an appearance on Sunday’s leg. Longer than usual to start with (83.96km of timed stages) and mainly contested through the west coast’s tropical forests on narrower and more technical roads, the rain just made the conditions even tougher.
Despite the many difficulties, Mads Østberg was not one of the numerous drivers to be caught out by the conditions. Quite the opposite, in fact, as the Norwegian showed all of his experience, initially securing fourth place by extending his lead over the fifth-placed driver to 12.0s on the day’s first two stages. He then went one better on the penultimate speed test. He grabbed the third fastest time on stage, just 4.0s off the pace (over 19.27km), as one of the title contenders went off, meaning he moved up to third position. He therefore claimed his second podium of the season, adding to his runner-up spot in Finland. It was also Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT’s fifth podium of the year, following Sweden (2nd), Mexico (3rd), Finland (2nd) and the win in Spain.
First to tackle the treacherous stages thanks to his unfavourable road position in leading the running order, Craig Breen was caught out a few times by the slippery conditions. He nonetheless made it to the end in seventh place, whilst also gathering experience and collecting information for the team.
WHAT THEY SAID
"It’s been a really tough event for us, especially since our mistake yesterday meant we had to open the road on these very tricky stages today. Saying that, the positive for me is that once again we had really good pace in the C3 WRC, especially during the first leg."
"It really has been a weekend of ups – particularly on Friday’s leg when we were leading the rally – and downs, especially yesterday when we were a little bit less comfortable on the stages. It wasn’t easy to come back after two months on the sofa and such a long break since Wales Rally GB. But we kept on fighting, we never gave up and continued to put pressure on our rivals today. Our consistency and strength today on the extremely slippery stages were rewarded in the end!"