Mads Ostberg won the Norwegian national championship Finnskog Rally, based at Kongsvinger, for the sixth time, and his third time in a row.
He was at the wheel of his 2017 specification Ford Fiesta WRC, and finished over a minute ahead of the Skoda Fabia R5 of Ole Chrisian Veiby.
Ostberg was using the wider WRC specification tyres as a testing exercise ahead of the forthcoming Swedish Rally, rather than the more performant narrow width tyres permitted in national rallies.
He also deliberately fitted worn tyres, to simulate the behaviour of the car to be encountered on the WRC event when the car is to be driven by Henning Solberg, when Ostberg is competing in a Citroen C3 WRC.
Henning’s Mitsubishi retired when in third place with gearbox trouble, and Nikolai Gryazin crashed his fourth placed Fabia R5 when swerving to avoid an elk.
Henning’s son, Oscar Solberg, went off the road in a Fiesta R5 one stage earlier.
Ostberg's win comes as compensation for retirement on last month’s Sigdal Rally, the preceding Norwegian championship event, caused by damage to the car caused by a broken brake disc.
Meanwhile, Ostberg is to compete on the Otago Classic Rally in New Zealand (14-15 April) in an Escort Mark II.
Although a veteran driver in over 100 WRC events, Ostberg has never had the chance to compete in New Zealand before.
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Escort Mark II driver, Bryan Bouffier, snatched the lead four stages from the end of the Legend Boucles classic car rally when Francois Duval was delayed.
Run in South Belgium as a high speed regularity event in cold, wet and sometimes snowy conditions, this event continues the popularity enjoyed when it was run in earlier years as the Boucles de Spa.
Thierry Neuville entertained the crowds driving a modified Opel Corsa which was ineligible for the main competition, but was the fastest driver on the event.
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Victory for Fredrik Ahlin on the national championship Vannas Rally, held in northern Sweden, around 800km north of Stockholm.
This came after a close fight with 50 year old Jorgen Jonasson, who lost time in a snow bank.
It was Ahlin’s first win in Sweden for nearly three years.
Mattias Adielsson was second and Martin Berglund third, all the top three in Skoda Fabia R5s.
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Jourdan Serderidis will drive a Ford Fiesta WRC in Rally Australia. Photo: Geoff Ridder
With his hopes of retaining his WRC Trophy title in 2018, following the FIA’s decision not to run the series again, 54-year old Greek driver, Jourdan Serderidis, is planning to switch from a Citroen C3 WRC to a 2017 version Fiesta WRC for two events this year, in Germany and Australia.
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Reigning German Rally Champion, Fabian Kreim, won the opening round of his national series, the Saarland-Pfalz Rallye.
He drove an importers’ team Skoda Fabia R5, beating Christian Riedemann (Peugeot 208T16) and Rene Mandel in a Ford Fiesta R5.
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