Monday | 14 Mar 2016

Østberg inspired by Canaries outing

Mads Østberg would happily return to the Canary Islands’ demanding asphalt roads despite crashing out of the lead of Rally Islas Canarias during a guest appearance at the FIA European Rally Championship encounter last weekend.

The M-Sport World Rally Team star was fastest in qualifying and led before crashing his Ford Fiesta R5 into a wall near the end of the final stage of the opening leg. It was too badly damaged to allow the Norwegian to restart the second day.

“There’s a real rally culture around here, the people absolutely get it,” he said. “That’s why it was such a privilege to come here and compete on the opening round of the championship. If there was a chance to come back, I’d love to take it.”

Østberg compared the event to the WRC’s season-opening Rallye Monte-Carlo. “You’ve got exactly the same tricky elements in place, unpredictable weather and the big gamble around tyre choice, with no easy answer.”

Despite settings that were too soft, Østberg built a 9.3sec lead in the opening loop of three stages. He switched to a harder set-up and tyres for the second loop, but rain ruined his strategy and his advantage was cut to 6.9sec before he crashed in a left bend following brake problems.

Østberg led until the final stage of the opening day

“I had a bit of a warning before when the brake didn’t seem to be working very well. But then it seemed to be better and I thought maybe it was just some dirt or something. Unfortunately though it happened again and when you’re pushing hard there’s not much left in reserve, so we crashed.

“The damage was quite big, all the suspension was gone and the side of the car was pushed in. The differential was damaged too,” he explained.

The drive came about after a chance encounter during a New Year holiday in Gran Canaria 15 months ago. Østberg posted a picture on his Instagram page while staying at the Anfi del Mar resort which attracted the attention of one of the directors, a rally competitor himself, and led to a deal being agreed.

Photographs by Andre Lavadinho, @World

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