Østberg retires from asphalt warm-up

Mads Østberg's preparations for the upcoming ADAC Rallye Deutschland (17-20 August) hit the rocks – quite literally – at the weekend when he was forced to retire from Rally Rzeszow in Poland.

The Norwegian was using the European Rally Championship fixture as a warm up for his WRC 2 outing in Germany later this month and initially led the asphalt event in his Adapta Motorsport Ford Fiesta R5.

However, Østberg's OneBet-sponsored car plummeted down to sixth place when he was forced to drive with no power steering for 14km of SS4 (see video below). That meant he ended the first leg 38sec behind Frenchman Bryan Bouffier.

Any hopes of a second leg fightback were scuppered on Saturday morning when Østberg hit a rock on SS6 and punctured his car's front-left tyre. Although he and co-driver Patrik Barth progressed into SS7, they retired shortly afterwards amidst concerns for the handling of their machine.

Østberg was leading in Poland until he suffered power steering failure (ERC media)

"We had a hard impact on the left-hand front wheel on SS6 after I hit a stone in a cut," the one-time WRC rally winner explained through his official Facebook page. "I was not 100% happy with the steering after that. With yesterday's power steering problem in mind, which has not been finally investigated, we took a necessary safety decision, in consultation with the team, after SS7.

"We need to think safety in the car, but also safety for the spectators and environment along the stage."

After splitting with co-driver Ole Fløene before Neste Rally Finland, Østberg is currently trialling three co-drivers. He did Finland with Torstein Eriksen and was partnered by Patrik Barth as he retired from Rally Rzeszow.

He will take Emil Axelsson (ex Patrik Sandell, P-G Andersson and Pontus Tidemand) to ADAC Rallye Deutschland before making a decision on the identity of his navigator for the remainder of 2017.

He said: “I’m looking for a good friendship and a talented co-driver who can really understand pace notes.”

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