Mads Østberg starts his 2017 season in Sweden where this weekend will take place the second round of the World Rally Championship.
The Norwegian will run his own independent team – a joint operation with Martin Prokop’s Jipocar World Rally Team. In Sweden only Østberg will compete, Prokop will drive in Mexico. Later in the season the team will run two Fiestas in the championship for both of them.
“I was not very motivated after a frustrating season with disappointing results last year, but now I am feeling optimistic”, Mads admitted. “Things happened in a very short time. M-Sport managed to deliver a car last week and I got two very good days of testing in Sweden Saturday and Sunday. Nobody should doubt that I’m still “hungry” as a rally competitor, and I will drive for top positions this season.”
“How much faster we will drive on the stages is difficult to calculate, but I can tell you that these new cars are seriously fast machines! We had 250 kms of testing in Sweden last weekend and I really enjoyed driving the Fiesta. I think I have found a good base set-up.”
Mads Østberg: The car is so much faster than the old Fiesta that the biggest challenge is to adapt to the extra speed and braking into corners
Even more important according to Mads himself will be the new team organisation and the social and sporting environment. Onebet Jipocar World Rally Team will have a compact staff of 14 persons, when the team is running one car.
“The team is going to be easy manageable and flexible. My people are not only highly competent but also extremely dedicated to work with me for the best possible results. I like to have a good and personal relationship with the members of my team. After the test in Sweden I really feel a positive “buzz” and friendly faces all around. If we can keep that positive feeling and also find the right setups for the car under all different conditions, I will be able to perform to the best of my abilities.”
As codriver for 2017 Østberg has kept Ola Fløene (47) who himself has done 79 WRC rallies. This makes the team one of the most experienced in the WRC this season. Mads Østbergs best result in Sweden came in 2011. Then he took a shocking lead and kept it until the last day. In the end he was beat with only 6,5 seconds by Mikko Hirvonen.
— Mads Østberg (@MadsOstberg) 5 February 2017