After taking a clean sweep of the top five places in the RC2 category at last month’s Rallye Monte-Carlo, the C3 R5 again demonstrated its competitiveness as Mads Østberg and Torstein Eriksen claimed victory in the WRC2 class in Sweden. With this second successive win, secured on stages that were made incredibly demanding due to the lack of snow cover, the Norwegians moved clear at the top of the championship.
• In doubt for several weeks due the mild temperatures and a general lack of snow and ice, Rally Sweden ultimately went ahead thanks to the hard work and dedication of the organisers, albeit with a shortened itinerary covering nine stages (competitive distance of 148.55 kilometres). With a limited amount of ice on the roads and gravel therefore inevitably appearing as more cars completed the stages, managing the studded tyres became one of the weekend’s major challenges.
• Despite the very tricky conditions, the C3 R5 confirmed its ability to be competitive and reliable on all surfaces. It should be said that in the context of the increased support provided to the customer racing programmes, Citroën Racing had prepared thoroughly for the event, notably running two days of dedicated testing.
• Armed with extensive knowledge of this event (this was his 14th appearance in Sweden), Mads Østberg made use of his vast experience to grab the WRC2 category lead with a stage win on the second proper speed test. The Norwegian went on to add another six stage wins to secure an undisputed victory, his second of the season in the WRC2 after winning the opening round in Monte-Carlo. This result consolidated his place at the top of the championship standings, extending his lead over his nearest challengers.
• Mads and Torstein’s programme sees them return to action at Rally de Portugal (21-24 May), where they will lead a strong contingent of C3 R5s, including the likes of Yohan Rossel, Nicolas Ciamin and Bolivian youngster, Marquito Bulacia. Before then, Marquito will have kicked off his WRC3 campaign on the stages of Mexico (12-15 March) and Argentina (23-26 April).
WHAT THEY SAID…
Didier Clément, Head of Customer Racing, Citroën Racing:
“First of all, I would like to pay tribute to the organisers, who have done a fantastic job and went to great lengths to make sure that the rally went ahead. Having said that, the conditions were nonetheless very tricky, but Mads and Torstein were able to keep out of trouble. They managed their race with great intelligence in a C3 R5 that has made undeniable progress since its maiden outing in Sweden last year. This second win in a row is the ideal start to our WRC2 programme. We’ll be doing our utmost to keep the momentum going, because the target is for Mads to win the title in the C3 R5.”
Mads Østberg – WRC2 winner, 3rd in the RC2 class and 12th overall:
“It wasn’t a typical Rally Sweden, because in the end there was a lot of gravel and virtually no snow, but we managed to adapt to the conditions and put in a good performance this weekend. I knew the standard would be very high, with a lot of very good Scandinavian drivers taking part, but we grabbed the lead of the WRC2 early on and managed to hold onto it until the end. We’re really pleased with the result. The car has also made a big step forward on these stages compared with last year and that’s also very positive. We’re now going to make the most of this long break between now and Rally Portugal to keep working hard to make the C3 R5 even quicker and keep up the momentum.”
WRC2 DRIVER STANDINGS:
- Mads Østberg / T. Eriksen 50 pts
- Fourmaux / Jamoul 30 pts
- Gryazin / Fedorov 23 pts
- Yates / Morgan 22 pts
- Veiby / Andersson 18 pts