Mads Østberg will become the newest recruit to the WRC’s centenary club when he starts his 100th world rally at next week’s Che Guevara Energy Drink Tour de Corse (29 September - 2 October).
The Norwegian, currently in his second spell with the M-Sport World Rally Team, made his WRC debut at the 2006 Swedish Rally and has fond memories of that outing in a Subaru Impreza World Rally Car.
“I was always spectating in Sweden so it was a great moment to be part of the rally,” he said. “I didn’t know exactly what it would be like but I remember especially that the recce was very hard, much harder than I knew from national rallies I had been doing before that.
“It was a big move to step into that, long days of recceing and early mornings on the rally. It was a huge challenge and quite exhausting, but I really enjoyed it.”
Østberg, who spent two years with the factory Citroën team between his M-Sport stints, scored his maiden WRC win in Portugal in 2012. But it was second in Sweden the previous season, the first of his 16 podiums, that remains his greatest memory.
“Sweden has always felt like my home rally and even though I have done a couple of Rally Norways, it’s probably my favourite rally of the year. My best result before that was sixth in Portugal and to be fighting for the win in Sweden was fantastic,” he told wrc.com.
Østberg will become the 26th driver to reach 100 starts. The list is headed by Carlos Sainz on 196, while the most experienced current driver is Jari-Matti Latvala who has started 165 rounds to place him fourth in the list.
Østberg has yet to finalise his 2017 plans but the 28-year-old admitted talks were progressing well.
“We are in negotiations with a few different teams and I feel it’s going quite well. It’s never easy to know at this point of the year what might happen next year, but I’m very positive that we will find a good solution and that I can be in a good team,” he added.