Mads Østberg will tackle Norway’s KNA Rally Finnskog on Saturday (6 February) as part of his preparations for the following weekend’s Rally Sweden – an Event his M-Sport team boss Malcom Wilson believes he is capable of winning.
Østberg will drive an R5 specification Ford Fiesta in Norway, as he reacquaints himself with the model after two years in Citroëns. Alongside him will be new co-driver Ola Fløene, who joined him for the first time at the world championship’s opening round Rallye Monte-Carlo.
Having opened his season with fourth place on the Monte, Østberg said he was increasingly confident alongside Fløene and back in the Fiesta RS he last drove in 2013.
“We are getting very close to where we want to be, and the opportunity to drive at the Finnskog rally should make it even better,” the Norwegian told wrc.com.
“I’m yet to drive the new World Rally Car on snow, but I think it will be very competitive. If it is then I think we can be competitive as well. It’s always difficult to take the battle to Volkswagen but for sure we will try.”
Østberg’s past record on snow marks him out as one of the favourites to do well in Sweden, which also features stages in his homeland. He narrowly missed out on victory there in 2011, and has finished on the podium on four of his last five starts. His Finnskog record is even better, with four outright wins – most recently in 2015.
“If he has a good test then he’ll be in good shape for Sweden, and that’s got to be one of the events where he can really challenge to win,”added Wilson. “He’s nearly done it before and with our team in 2011 he only lost in the last stage so we know what he’s capable of.”