Finland provided an opportunity to check out the spirit in the present day Citroen team after the sudden departure of their luckless former lead driver, Kris Meeke.
This was an occasion when their star guest driver, Sebastien Loeb, was busy elsewhere in motorsport, and this was also an event where veteran team patron, Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi, had a drive.
In other words, the occasion where their young drivers Mads Ostberg (30 years old) and Craig Breen (28) were the drivers on whom the team was able to concentrate its greatest efforts.
“It's great to be back again in Citroen these days on a more secure basis. We did not know what would happen at the beginning of the year," Mads Ostberg said.
"The C3 WRC has been progressing. I did Sweden with a car in its earlier specification. After then they had an upgrade for new rear geometry.
"I did Portugal and Sardinia in this spec car, but I struggled a bit. Here we also have a new front geometry for the first time. The car is now more reactive, much sharper.
"You can play a bit more with the set-up and still have a good reaction and a good handling of the car, which was really important. Before we were always making compromises between grip and handling. Now we can have a little bit of both.”
Mads Ostberg finished a brilliant second in Finland.
How do you think the C3 WRC now compares with the other cars in the championship?
“It's difficult to say. Obviously I have experience with the Fiesta from last year so I can compare a bit with that.
"And with the latest upgrades we are now much more in the ball game, though there is still work to do. It will take time to gain experience and to make the set-up perfect.
"We only had a few days of testing with the new geometry, but we have made a big, big step.”\
Now you are working with the Irish driver Craig (Breen), someone much closer to your age!
“We have been working now together for three events. Obviously I've been in as a third driver in the two first rallies, then for Sardinia I was in the second car.
"I don't really know Craig that well yet, we only meet each other on events, but I think we are working really well together. He has a lot of experience as well.
"We can share our information and work together on development of the car. When he speaks to me I can understand everything he says, but when he talks with his friends on the telephone or at the rallies I have no clue what they are saying!”
A puncture on Friday in Finland put paid to Craig Breen's chances of a podium finish.
Mads’ current plan is to do compete on every remaining WRC event this year, except Spain.
Are you going to drive an R5 on that event?
“It is up to Citroen. I've been pushing them hard to let me do Spain in the R5. For the moment I don't know what's happening.
"Meanwhile, I have had a quite different experience when I did the Otago Rally in New Zealand in a classic Escort. It was really enjoyable. Fantastic car, fantastic rally.
"I was glad to take that opportunity and experience something else. I had never been to that country before. I loved it. It’s really amazing.
"It reminded me a lot about home in Norway with the mountains, the lakes, the water, the fjords. Also the people are just amazing, probably the most friendly people in the world.
"My priority is always with WRC, but of course if I think I have an invitation to come back to New Zealand I will accept it, but the WRC is my number one priority.”
Irishman Craig Breen is working well with team-mate Mads Ostberg.
Like Mads, Craig Breen was very happy to talk about the way the C3 WRC is now working.
“At the moment things are going well. We tried out the latest specification two weeks ago in Rally Estonia and it worked really well there, so I'm looking forward to it now," Breen said.
"We had a time penalty in Estonia. The team had to change the turbo in service on the second morning. We had discovered a problem the previous evening.
"They thought they had sort of fixed it, but we all agreed that it was better to change the turbo and take a penalty and have the car working well and go back out again.
"There was no point carry on testing unless the car was working well.
"Definitely the car going in the right direction. Estonia was not exactly representative of Finland, but to get used to driving on really high speed stages, I don’t think you’ll pick a faster place than Estonia.
"In Estonia the roads, however, are really soft and are harder here in Finland. That was the first thing which took me a little more time in the test to get familiar with.
"As for Finland, looking back to 2016 when I was on the podium, I’ll never forget that for the rest of my life. Last year it was difficult for us, but this year we’re in a completely different way. The car has improved so much since even the start of this year.”
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