The defending champion won his first outing at the Croatia Rally in April but hasn’t stood on the top step of the podium since. Østberg is second in the standings and eight points adrift of leader Andreas Mikkelsen, who is absent in Spain.
Drivers in WRC2 can count their best six scores from seven nominated rallies. Mikkelsen has only started six and will complete his season at FORUM8 ACI Rally Monza next month, whilst Spain will be Østberg’s final chance to get points on the board.
Even if Østberg picks up the maximum 30 points this week, Mikkelsen would only need to score 13 points in Monza to take the title.
"Of course [we are feeling pressure],” the Citroën C3 Rally2 star admitted. “But we are just trying to focus on this event."
"Normally the car feels good on this surface, but it’s a long time since we have driven on this type of Tarmac," he added.
Nikolay Gryazin will be keen to make amends after a double puncture cost him a podium at Secto Automotive Rally Finland earlier this month. He is debuting a Toksport-prepared Škoda Fabia Rally2 after switching from his usual Polo machine.
Jari Huttunen, who still has a mathematical chance of winning the title, will drive a Hyundai i20 N Rally2. He will be joined by new team-mate and fellow Finn Teemu Suninen in a similar car.
Suninen was victorious in Finland although he has not previously driven the i20 competitively. He still has an outside chance of taking the title, although his prospects are very slim.
“Spain has been one of my all-time favourite rallies,” he beamed. “At the same time, it’s the best event to feel the balance of the new car on Tarmac because of the long curves.”
The rally’s wide and twisty asphalt roads could also suit American star Sean Johnston. He started his career in circuit racing and will be doing his best to challenge for the podium with his C3. Eric Camilli also has a strong record on sealed-surface events and will drive a similar car.
Other entries include Estonian youngster Georg Linnamäe in a Polo as well as championship debutante Erik Cais in an M-Sport Ford Fiesta Rally2.
It comes down to these four ⤵️ Who will be crowned ????2021 #WRC2 Champion ?????— WRC - FIA World Rally Championship (@OfficialWRC) October 14, 2021
- Full coverage from Rally RACC - Rally de España will be available on WRC+ All Live here, including every stage broadcast as it happens as well as key interviews, features and expert analysis from the service park.