Norwegian M-Sport duo Mads Ostberg and Ola Floene finished third in the second round of the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile World Rally Championship in Sweden.
The result marked the 28-year-old driver’s first loose-surface outing back in a Ford Fiesta RS after leaving Citroën after the 2015 season and is likewise the first time he’s getting pace notes in his own language in seven years. Floene, nearly 20 years Ostberg’s senior, replaced Jonas Andersson.
Ostberg said his relationship with Floene has been very good.
“We were actually saying that it feels as though we have been working together for years, so that is a big positive,” he said. “We started off a bit slow, but after that we managed to drive our way back up to the podium and we stayed there since Friday [Saturday in Manila]. We pushed when we needed to and controlled the pace when necessary and, in the end, it was actually quite a comfortable third place.”
Floene had been a successful motocross rider before becoming a World Rally Championship (WRC) co-driver in 1996, when he partnered with Mads Ostberg’s father, Morten. The pair spent three seasons in Norwegian championship rallies, going up against rivals like Petter and Henning Solberg.
He then teamed with Martin Stenshorne, but the year was marred by two huge accidents, one of which left FlOene with a broken back. Over the next five years, Floene tackled a variety of Nordic and European rallies with alongside Henning Solberg, David Doppelreiter and both Morten and Mads Ostberg. In March 2006, Henning asked Floene to test alongside a promising 16-year old Andreas Mikkelsen – starting a partnership that lasted seven years.
Using Floene’s pace-note system, Mikkelsen set records in the British, Norwegian and world championships, along with back-to-back titles in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge in a Skoda in 2011 and 2012. In 2013, he rode with Swedish rising star Pontus Tidemand and the two clinched the WRC Academy world title.
In May 2014, Floene got a call from Mikkelsen asking him to come back in time for Rally Italia Sardegna. Floene was happy to oblige, saying, “I dare say Andreas and I were just meant to be together in a rally car.”
The pair went on to take four podiums during the remainder of the 2014 season. In 2015, they secured their first WRC victory at Rally RACC Catalunya–Rally de España.