Østberg claims C3 drive

Citroën Racing has pinned its faith in Mads Østberg to replace the axed Kris Meeke for the second half of the WRC season.

He will partner Craig Breen in its second C3 car at the gravel rounds in Finland, Turkey, Great Britain and Australia and the asphalt encounter in Germany.

As initially planned, Sébastien Loeb will drive the car at the mixed surface penultimate round in Spain, his third and final appearance after competing in Mexico and Corsica.

Østberg was always the favourite to replace Meeke. The Ulsterman was dismissed for safety reasons after a massive accident in Portugal last month, the latest in an ‘excessively high number of crashes’, according to Citroën.

The Norwegian has driven a C3 three times this season, finishing sixth in Sweden and Portugal and fifth in Italy earlier this month.

“It was really great to be back with the team for these first three rallies, having previously worked together a few years ago now,” said Østberg. “I’m honoured by the trust that the brand and Pierre (Budar, team principal) have placed in me.

Mads Østberg drove a C3 to fifth in Sardinia

“I’ll be giving everything I can to pay them back in the best possible way at the next few rallies, especially as I’m starting to become familiar with the C3 WRC now and Rally Finland is coming up soon, my favourite weekend of the season.

“I’m convinced that we have all the qualities required to do well on these five additional appearances.”

Budar said 30-year-old Østberg had settled back into the team after claiming seven podiums with Citroën in 2014 and 2015.

“We are now entering a rebuilding phase, already partly looking ahead to 2019, but before that, we have to finish this season as well as possible.

“Mads, both due to his experience of the world championship and with the C3 WRC, can undoubtedly help us to move forward in a calm, relaxed manner. He is consistent and that is reflected in the many minor places he has collected at almost all the events,” said Budar.

Team patron Khalid Al Qassimi will drive a third C3 in Finland, Turkey and Spain.

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