WRC: Mads Ostberg pulled off Rally Australia after recce crash
Citroen’s rally driver Mads Østberg and his co-driver Jonas Andersson pulled off Rally Australia following yesterday’s accident during the recce for the event. Ostberg was driving a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo when he crashed with a truck. With two cracked ribs for him and extensive bruising for his co-driver, the crew had to pull out of the rally which is set to start tomorrow.
“We collided head on with a truck, which was also driving on the wrong side of the gravel road. We simply couldn’t avoid it. Fortunately, the car’s safety features did their job. We tried to continue with recce, but it would be impossible for us to compete properly and safely in the rally. We have therefore pulled out on the grounds of force majeure. We’re very disappointed, because we believed we would be competitive and could fight to regain third place in the Drivers’ World Championship,” explained the Norwegian driver.
Citroen Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Time already set the replacement for Ostberg and Andersson. Initially in Australia to complete recce of the course for a future appearance here, Stéphane Lefebvre and Stéphane Prévot have been chosen to get in the cockpit of #4 DS 3 WRC.
“First and foremost, the entire team is very disappointed for Mads and Jonas. They had the motivation and the potential to secure a very good result on this surface. When it became clear that they would have to pull out, we decided to maintain the entry of the no.4 DS 3 WRC, entrusting it to Stéphane Lefebvre et Stéphane Prévot. Without any pre-event preparation, we are not expecting him to be competitive. But it will be another opportunity for him to learn about rallying at this level. We’ll be asking him to finish the rally to score some points in the Manufacturers‘ World Championship,” commented Marek Nawarecki, Deputy Team Principal, Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team.
“I feel very sorry for Mads and Jonas, because we’re all part of a big family at Citroën Racing. I hope they’ll be back to full fitness very quickly. I have never driven the DS 3 WRC on gravel so I’m expecting it to be a tough weekend. Ordinarily, I prepare for a rally several weeks in advance by watching on-board camera footage from previous years to get a feel for the stages. I won’t be able to do that here, but all experience is welcome and I’m grateful to Citroën Racing for having put their faith in me. I’ll be treating this first rally with the respect it deserves, to try and meet the target set for me by the team,” added Stéphane Lefebvre.
Rally Australia begins on Thursday, 10 September with the shakedown starting 9.30am local time. First special stage is scheduled for Friday at 8.18. Rally consists of 17 special stages with a total of 311 competitive kilometres. 27 crews are on the entry list, 11 of them in World Rally Cars.