Rally Australia marks the end of an era as M-Sport’s current Ecoboost-powered Ford Fiesta RS WRC contests its last official outing in the FIA World Rally Championship. The car claimed victory on its debut at the 2011 edition of Rally Sweden. Since then the top-specification Fiesta has been entered 531 times on 78 different events. It secured 50 top-three finishes and three clean-sweeps of the podium.
As a key figure in the Fiesta’s success, Mads Ostberg is responsible for nine podiums. He contributed to all three podium lockouts – a statistic which can only be matched by Volkswagen Motorsport. Partnered by compatriot Ola Floene, Ostberg will be hoping to challenge at the head of the field and looking to secure his best result on Australian soil. The Norwegian has only contested the Australian fixture on two previous occasions. His best result was fifth when piloting the Fiesta in 2013.
Mads Ostberg said:
“Every year I enjoy coming back to Australia and the unique challenges that it has to offer. It really is like nothing else in the championship. So different to anything else we experience throughout the year.”
“The character of the stages changes quite a lot. We often switch from very wide, open roads to tight and twisty sections in the forests. Recce is really important. You need to keep the rhythm in your notes and have every tree and rock noted. It’s a big challenge to end the season.”
“The event is a little later this year so we’ll have to see how that affects the advantages and disadvantages of running order. Generally, it’s better to be further back. But there is also a risk of hanging dust which can be really challenging. We’ll just have to wait and see how it plays out.”
“It’s strange to think that I’ve only contested this event twice before. But we will give it our all and always want to achieve the best possible result.”
Contesting the event for the first time, Eric Camilli and co-driver Benjamin Veillas will be looking to close a year of development with another solid finish. The Frenchmen will continue to acquire as much knowledge as possible.
Eric Camilli said:
“I’m really looking forward to experiencing another new rally and discovering all of the challenges that Australia has to offer. This is my first time at this event. There will be a lot to learn, but we’re really looking forward to it. From what I’ve seen, it looks like a fantastic rally with amazing scenery and stages.”
“As with any new event, the pacenotes that we make on the pre-event reconnaissance will be really important. Thankfully, we have made a big step forward in that area this year. Our pacenotes have progressed a lot over the past 12 months, and next week’s event gives us an opportunity to put everything into practice.”
“We want to end the season on a high, but it is also important to complete all of the stages and gain maximum experience. I believe that we have already shown the speed that we can be capable of, so we’ll just take each stage as it comes and aim to build on our performance throughout the weekend.”