Throughout December on wrc.com we take a look at this year’s top five drivers, with a review of their performance, their season statistics and some thoughts from the men themselves. Up first: Norway’s Mads Ostberg.
2014 Vital Statistics - Mads Ostberg
|Drivers’ Championship position:||5th|
|Drivers' Championship points:||108|
|Stage wins (from a season total of 249):||15|
|Power Stage points:||5|
2014 in summary: Having begun his career in Subarus and Fords, Ostberg began 2014 with a new challenge in the shape of Citroen’s championship-winning DS3. The car was always going to take some getting used to, but Ostberg got off to a flying start in Monte Carlo. His impressed in Sweden too, taking two stage wins.
By day one in Mexico Mads was brimming with confidence - third in the championship and leading the rally ahead of defending champ Sebastien Ogier. A collision with a bank ruined that outing, but a podium on the next round in Portugal kept him third in the standings. He showed potential in Argentina too, with second quickest time on the opening stage, before his chances evaporated on the next when his DS3 bounced off the road into a rock. The next round in Italy, where he repelled a challenge from Latvala to deliver a podium for Citroen was the high point of his year.
From then on Mads had a run of misfortune. Batting for third in Poland he took a front wheel off and rolled out, while in Germany he was frustrated by his inability to find a decent rhythm. The fact that his chief rival for a place at Citroen in 2015 - team-mate Kris Meeke - was doing much better didn’t lift his mood. Nor did the banana his team began drawing on his steering wheel in a bid to lift his spirits.
There were more tough times in Australia, when he struggled to break into the top five, and Finland when he retired after hitting a rock. Desperate to impress at a critical time of the year, Ostberg had an incident-filled ride to seventh in France and was lucky to scrape fourth in Spain. However the season ended on a positive with a podium in Wales after a close fight with Mikko Hirvonen.
To sum it up: A season of two halves - but the reverse of what was expected with a new car. Showed flashes of brilliance early on, but there were glimpses of vintage Ostberg frustration in there too.
Q. Best moment of the season?
MO: “Monte Carlo was a big moment for me. The first rally with the new team and car and we finished fourth. Even though it wasn’t a podium it was a great achievement. Second place in Italy was very nice too. If I can pick one then it has to be Italy.”
Q: You biggest near-disaster of the season?
MO: “At Rally Sweden, on the small stage in Norway. I was still quite fresh to the car and didn’t know how it reacted to different things. There was a small bump in the road which I took flat and the rear of the car kicked up massively into the air. I just about kept the car on the road. A little faster and it would have flipped us end over end.”
Q: What are you most looking forward to next year?
MO: “I always look forward to Sweden. I really like snow rallies so this is a highlight of the season.”
Q: Your best party of 2014?
MO: “Sweden. My home rally. Lots of sponsors and guests. That was a big one.”