WRC 2 Pro frontrunner Mads Østberg is a surprise absence from next month’s Neste Rally Finland (1 - 4 August) – the Norwegian staying away from Jyväskylä to focus on development of the Citroën C3 R5.
Østberg, who led Finland in a C3 World Rally Car 12 months ago, misses the rally for the first time in 14 years.
“It hurts a lot not to be going to Finland,” he said. “It was part of the plan to do the event, but we are not ready. We need to do some more work with the car and I don’t want to commit to more rallies until we do more development.”
Specifically for the next round of the series, Østberg says the C3 R5 needs an aerodynamic step at the front of the car. “We need a lip,” he said. “This would help to stop the nose from lifting, the car would fly better.”
The 31-year-old’s next event could be ADAC Rallye Deutschland (21 - 24 August), but he wouldn’t be drawn on specific plans.
“Taking time out and working with the car is good for Citroën and for me,” he said. “The schedule was so tight earlier this year, this will give us time to improve.
“I’m not here to drive slowly or medium speed. I’m here to push to perform on every stage. I’m not willing to take the caution, it’s not my point to take second place because we don’t have the performance.”
Østberg, who has won two rounds this year, sits second in the WRC 2 Pro standings, 13 points behind Škoda’s Kalle Rovanperä, who has started one more event.
Rovanperä has a good opportunity to move further ahead. M-Sport Ford driver Gus Greensmith, who is third, won’t score after being elevated to the main M-Sport squad to drive the injured Elfyn Evans’ Fiesta WRC.