MADS Østberg will contest Kennards Hire Rally Australia for manufacturer Citroën after being announced today as the FIA World Rally Championship squad’s driver for the rest of the 2018 season.
Østberg was confirmed today to drive a Citroën C3 WRC in place of Irishman Kris Meeke, who was axed from the manufacturer team after crashing during last month’s Rally Portugal.
Teaming with Craig Breen, Østberg will contest the WRC rounds in Finland, Turkey, Great Britain and Australia, missing only Spain to make way for a pre-planned guest appearance by nine-time champion Sébastien Loeb.
Kennards Hire Rally Australia will be the closing round of this year’s WRC, staged on the NSW Coffs Coast on 15-18 November.
Østberg has started the event three times, finishing a best of fifth outright aboard a Ford Fiesta RS in 2013. Since joining the WRC in 2006, he’s driven for a variety of teams including M-Sport, Citroën in 2014-15 and his own Adapta team, with which he won the 2012 Rally Portugal.
The popular 30-year-old had been the favourite to fill the Citroën vacancy, having already driven the 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,” he said.
“I’m honoured by the trust that the brand and Pierre (Budar, team principal) have placed in me.
“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.”
Rally Australia Clerk of Course Wayne Kenny welcomed the news Østberg would be returning Down Under.
“Mads is not only a WRC event winner, but consistently one of the most popular drivers in the championship. He’s often ready with a joke for the media even when things are going wrong and in particularl he’s known as one of the bravest and most ambitious ‘jumpers’ in the WRC.
“We’re looking forward to seeing how far he’ll jump his car to entertain the fans at Rally Australia.”
Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team principal Budar said Østberg had settled well in his second stint with Citroën.
“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,” Budar said.
“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.”