M-Sport boss Malcolm Wilson has given an upbeat assessment of his new driver line-up of Mads Østberg and Eric Camilli after a competitive debut of mixed fortunes at Rallye Monte-Carlo.
Returning to an M-Sport Ford Fiesta RS after two seasons at Citroën, Norway’s Østberg was the more successful of the pair and matched his best Monte finish of fourth on his first rally alongside new co-driver Ola Fløene.
“Mads did the perfect rally – and exactly what we expected him to do,” Wilson told wrc.com. “This isn’t a rally he likes, but he drove sensibly and came away with a good result and a lot more understanding at a time when he has much to learn. He’s fitted in well with the team. As a driver I think he has matured a lot since he was last with us and he brought some good ideas to the table.”
The team’s second new signing, 28-year-old French rising star Eric Camilli, fared less well, however. After impressing with a strong run through Saturday’s fourth stage, he retired on the fifth after going off at the same icy corner that caught out Robert Kubica, Hayden Paddon and Elfyn Evans.
“For Eric this one was short and sweet. It’s not often on a rally that an accident is caused by going too slowly – but that’s what happened,” Wilson explained.
He said Camili was being careful in the snow that when the race car driver accelerated, things did not turn out right. Wilson believes Camili won’t commit the same error again.
“Okay, it’s a shame he didn’t get so much experience, but the potential was there for everyone to see on stage four when he was fifth quickest on only his fourth stage in a WRC car. I’m pleased that I saw the performance he is capable of,” Wilson added.