Citroën Racing will send Mads Østberg to the WRC’s Australian finale in a third C3 World Rally Car if Sébastien Ogier keeps alive his hopes of a seventh title in Spain next week.
It has entered the Norwegian for Kennards Hire Rally Australia (14 - 17 November), hoping he could assist Ogier’s title defence by taking points from the Frenchman’s rivals, Ott Tänak and Thierry Neuville.
The entry for Østberg, who would not be eligible to score manufacturers’ points, is likely to be withdrawn should Tänak secure his first title at RallyRACC Catalunya - Rally de España (24 – 27 October).
The Toyota Gazoo Racing driver holds a 28-point lead over Ogier ahead of the mixed surface Spanish fixture. The title is his if he wins the rally. Outscoring Ogier by two points would also likely be enough, depending on Neuville’s result.
“We worked as hard as possible to prepare for Spain and hope to get a strong result for both of our crews there,” team principal Pierre Budar told wrc.com. “If we do so, we should stay in the fight for the drivers’ and co-drivers’ world titles with Seb and Julien (co-driver Ingrassia).
“In that case, we are going to commit a third car for Mads in Australia to try to take some points from Seb and Julien’s contenders.
“Mads was third last year and will get a really good road position on Friday on that really slippery surface. He certainly has the ability to have a strong contribution to our team effort.”
Østberg would be 11th in the start order for Australia’s opening leg on roads swept clean of gravel by those ahead. The better grip would hand him a great opportunity to end the day among the leaders and ensure another beneficial start position for the final two days.
Citroën has entered only two cars on all rounds so far, while Østberg has campaigned a C3 R5 in the WRC 2 Pro support category. He has not driven a World Rally Car since finishing third for the French squad Down Under last year.
Hyundai Motorsport has put its faith in Dani Sordo as it bids to outgun Toyota to claim its first manufacturers’ crown. The Spaniard has been given the nod ahead of Craig Breen to partner Neuville and Andreas Mikkelsen in its third i20.
The 26 entries include New Zealand’s Hayden Paddon, who will return to the headline category in M-Sport Ford’s Fiesta.