Stobart’s Østberg moves into top five at Rally Argentina

"I just don’t know which stones I can risk driving over"

By Franck Drui

29 May 2011 - 08:19
Stobart's Østberg moves into (...)

Norway’s Mads Østberg looks to continue M-Sport Stobart Ford World Rally Team’s run of top-five finishes after moving into fifth place at the end of today’s action in Argentina.

Today’s leg saw the WRC crews travel south of the service park and tackle a repeat loop of four stages totalling 159.66 km close to the village of Santa Rosa de Calamuchita. The eight predominantly gravel stages included approximately 25 km of asphalt, providing an extra challenge to the blisteringly quick stages.

Britain’s Matthew Wilson was lying seventh overnight and was close on the tail of team-mate Østberg on the day’s opening two stages. However, Wilson’s Ford Fiesta RS WRC clipped a banking near the start of Stage 10, causing a rear-right puncture and costing the 24-year-old over 60 seconds. The incident dropped the English driver back into eighth place, 43.6 seconds behind Argentina’s Federico Villagra.

Østberg and co-driver Jonas Andersson had a relatively trouble-free morning with the Scandinavian’s only notable concern being a loss of power steering when tackling jumps on the loop’s closing stages.

On Stage 13, the 23-year-old Norwegian took advantage of Ford Abu Dhabi’s Jari-Matti Latvala’s mechanical problems and moved into fifth place. With a margin of more than three minutes separating Østberg from the four front-runners, the Norwegian is looking for a clear run tomorrow to consolidate his top-five finish and secure him ten valuable drivers’ points.

Wilson and co-driver Scott Martin had a clear run on the afternoon pass and the Cumbrian pair remain seventh overall going into the final day.

Mads Østberg: “Today has been quite OK – we’ve wanted to push but we’ve just been trying to make it through with no problems. It’s been very up and down but we’ve been making some valuable changes to the pacenotes so we can ensure that we go flat out next year. This morning I was getting a little disappointed, I don’t like being behind – I wasn’t pushing to the maximum but it was just difficult being here for the first time. I didn’t want to be caught out with any surprises and it was the high speed sections where I found most difficult as I didn’t want to risk driving over the big stones. That could be the problem really – I just don’t know which stones I can risk driving over and the top guys seem to know a lot more than I do but I will learn. I’m happy with fifth place but it’s not how I wanted to move up the leaderboard – especially as it was because of a problem incurred by a Ford team-mate.”

Matthew Wilson: “Everything has been OK today apart from the puncture. Basically, we ran a little wide on a left-hand corner and hit a sandy bank which knocked the tyre off the rim. It didn’t cause us too much hassle initially but then we lost a lot of time during the last 3 km. It wasn’t a major issue as we were carrying a spare but obviously it was annoying to be knocked down a place. The mix of gravel and asphalt was interesting - we found that we were ahead on the gravel sections of the stages and behind in the asphalt because it was so messy with lots of stones dragged onto the road. There’s four stages tomorrow but there’s one very big stage that’s about 48 km where anything could happen – hopefully I can still be in a battle with Federico for sixth place, I’m sure the long stage will be the decider.”



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