PHOTO: Mads Østberg in action on Coates Hire Rally Australia 2014 (Jeremy Rogers pic)
MADS Ostberg will remain with Citroen for a full 13-round program in next year’s WRC, the team announced today.
Although the Norwegian finished fifth in the 2014 standings in his first year with the French squad, questions arose over whether he had done enough to secure a new contract alongside fellow driver Kris Meeke.
But Østberg said he had learned a lot and improved as a driver during the season.
“With the DS 3 WRC, I had to adjust my driving style. The work I put in has enabled me to discover new techniques, and they helped me get to grips with certain surfaces and conditions more easily. I’ll be using this experience to go even further in 2015,” he said.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing the upgrades that have been made on the DS 3 WRC. Thanks to the work done last year and the developments we’re testing and confirming this winter, I want to be able to fight to win rallies as often as possible.”
Østberg’s signing means Citroen will come out fighting at the opening round in Monte-Carlo next month, with nine-time champion Sebastien Loeb returning for a one-off appearance to help tackle the French team’s rivals from Volkswagen, Hyundai and M-Sport Ford.
It also finalises the 2015 key driver line-ups for the four main teams, although the fates of other leading 2014 drivers including Kiwi Hayden Paddon and Robert Kubica are yet to be announced.
Citroen team principal Yves Matton said keeping a stable line-up would help the team reap the rewards of 2014’s work.
“At 27 years old, Mads Østberg is now one of the most experienced drivers in the WRC. His first season in the DS 3 WRC allowed us to assess his potential,” Matton said.
“Mads produced some strong performances, despite being rather unlucky at times during the year. Having scored 108 points, his fifth place in the drivers’ championship reflects his investment.
“He’ll be able to build on his first season in the DS 3 WRC and will be beginning 2015 already perfectly familiar with the team and the car.”
Although Østberg will compete in Rallye Monte Carlo on 22 -25 January, he will not be part of Citroen’s points-scoring line-up. Loeb will be nominated alongside Meeke, with Østberg stepping up from Rally Sweden.