Østberg podium crucial to career
Mads Østberg regards his stunning drive to second at Neste Rally Finland as a defining moment for his future.
The Norwegian fended off home hero Jari-Matti Latvala in Sunday’s rally-closing Power Stage to provide Citroën Racing with an unexpected runners-up spot and deny Toyota Gazoo Racing a 1-2 finish.
Østberg is fighting for a long-term WRC contract after being drafted into the French squad to replace the axed Kris Meeke. He twice led during a fierce first leg duel with eventual winner Ott Tänak.
“I would say it’s the most important thing I’ve done in my life,” he said. “To fight with Jari-Matti like that on the final day of Finland is really exciting. I really had to do my best and that final stage was probably one of the best I’ve ever done in my life.”
“I’m really proud. It’s really emotional as well because I’ve been out (of WRC) for quite some time and the way back has been hard. I’ve had some good opportunities with Citroën. I’ve taken all the opportunities I’ve had and used them to the absolute best.”
Citroën introduced a revised geometry to the front of its C3 after upgrading the rear earlier in the season. Østberg topped the times at pre-event shakedown but admitted a podium was not in the squad’s thoughts.
“Before the weekend I think we had a serious understanding in the team that fighting for fourth would be really amazing. We expected the Toyotas to be way in front of everyone.
“They have been testing something like 20 days for the event and we spent three days here. It’s really amazing to be able to fight with them. I think the Toyota sandwich is the best sandwich you can get in Finland!” he added.
Østberg will tackle all the remaining rounds except Spain, where Sébastien Loeb will return for the last of his three-round programme. He believes there is more to come from the C3.
“We’ve done very rapid development with the car, but strong development as well. I think we’ve been able to introduce some new ideas to the team. We realised before the rally that we have done major steps.
“On my second day of testing I informed the team this is the best car I’ve ever had for Finland. We have some improvements to do, we still know there are certain areas where we need to be better,” added Østberg.
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