Østberg at the double!
Mads Østberg followed up victory at the opening round in Monte-Carlo with a second WRC2 class win at Rally Sweden in his Citroën C3 R5, confirming his excellent start to the season.
For 2020, Rally Sweden was pretty much an out-and-out sprint. Featuring a seriously reduced itinerary (a competitive distance of 148.55km over nine stages) due to the lack of snow cover in the Värmland region, this year’s event required competitors to be on the pace immediately. Invariably very fast on these stages, which are somewhat reminiscent of those in his native Norway, Mads Østberg wasted no time in showing his speed. He moved into the WRC 2 category lead in his Citroën C3 R5 after the second test with his first stage win of the weekend. It was a lead that he would not relinquish for the rest of the rally, collecting a further six stage wins on his way to a clear-cut, incident-free win. And all this despite the tricky, demanding conditions, where the increasingly exposed gravel meant the studded tyres wore out much quicker than usual. “It was difficult to judge the level of grip sometimes,” admitted the 32 year-old driver. “We had to adapt. It’s a long time since I have learned so much in one weekend! We knew that the first two events of the season were almost certainly going to be the most difficult for us, but we’ve managed to take full points so we’re extremely pleased about that.” With two successive category wins, Østberg is now the clear leader of the WRC2 and has already established a significant gap to his closest challengers. He can therefore feel relaxed heading into the scheduled break in his programme, as he will miss the rounds in Mexico and Argentina. A break that Citroën Racing will be using to fine-tune their preparations for their next outing on gravel at Rally de Portugal (21-24 May).
WRC Championship update
Elfyn Evans produced an impressively dominant display in only his second race in the Toyota Yaris WRC, claiming an undisputed win ahead of Ott Tänak (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) and his team-mate Kalle Rovanperä, who scored his first WRC podium finish at just 19 years old. Following his third place in Monte-Carlo, the Welshman also took over as championship leader, level on points with Thierry Neuville (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC), who finished sixth overall in Sweden.
Total Excellium Rally, a fuel built to withstand any test
Official fuel supplier for the WRC, Total has used the expertise of its technicians to develop Total Excellium Rally, a unique fuel designed to withstand the sub-zero temperatures of Monte-Carlo and Sweden and the sweltering heat expected in Mexico and Kenya. When it came to formulating the fuel and selecting the appropriate molecules, researchers therefore took into account the need of the engines to be capable of starting when cold and when very hot.