Friday | 04 Dec 2015

Østberg in co-driver hunt after Andersson switch

Mads Østberg is searching for a new co-driver to join him at M-Sport next year after his Swedish navigator of seven years, Jonas Andersson, quit unexpectedly this week.

On Monday it was revealed Østberg would return to the M-Sport World Rally Team for 2016, piloting a Ford Fiesta RS as part of a two-car squad with Eric Camilli.

But on Tuesday Andersson [above] announced he wouldn't make the move with Østberg, and this morning (Friday) it was confirmed he will co-drive Pontus Tidemand in a WRC 2 campaign with Skoda Motorsport in a Fabia R5.

"I had no clue what was going on, and was completely surprised when Jonas told me he wouldn't be sitting alongside me next year," said a stunned Østberg.

"I was prepared to go to the Monte test with Jonas and had started preparations for a new and exciting season together. Suddenly, the task was less about looking forward to Rallye Monte-Carlo and more about finding a co-driver for the two-day test!"

Østberg used stand-in co-drivers at his test this week.

Østberg was partnered at M-Sport's Monte test at Laborel in France on Thursday by Emil Axelsson, Tidemand's former co-driver. Ilka Minor is alongside him today and an announcement on Andersson's replacement is expected next week.

"Emil and I had a terrific year and his knowledge has been an important factor in the success we have had so obviously it is sad that it ends here," said Tidemand, who finished fifth in WRC 2 this year.

"At the same time I'm very happy that Jonas, with his huge experience, steps in and I'm really looking forward to us working together."

Andersson is excited by the new challenge with Tidemand.

"It was a perfect opportunity for me when the position with Pontus became available. I have known Pontus for many years and I see that as an advantage when it comes to quickly finding the right teamwork. We will definitely aim for the top and I think we are strong candidates for the overall WRC 2 in 2016. It will be fun to take on new challenges," he said.

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