Citroën motorsport has confirmed that WRC star Mads Østberg will play no part in round 10 of the 2015 season. The Norwegian suffered two cracked ribs in a high-speed head-on collision with a truck during a pre-event recce in Australia. Co-driver Jonas Andersson was also injured in the accident but escaped with only bruising.
The Scandinavian pair currently sits fourth in the world championship standings, just 8 points adrift of Volkswagen’s Andreas Mikkelsen, and enjoyed an impressive third place finish last time out in Germany. They had initially been cleared to continue after a medical check-up but later decided to throw in the towel as it became clear Østberg would not be able to cope with the physical strains of the three day gravel event.
The loss of its in-form driver comes as a big setback for the Citroën squad as it aims to cut the 13 point deficit to second-place Hyundai in the manufacturers’ standings.
Østberg ’s withdrawal thrusts French youngster Stéphane Lefebvre into the spotlight. He and co-driver Stéphane Prevot will take over the reins of the lead DS3 in the Norwegian’s absence after having been promoted from WRC 2 to Citroën ’s senior squad at Rallye Deutschland last month. The 23 year-old posted a highly respectable tenth place finish on the asphalt near Trier, securing his first WRC point in the process. However, without any pre-event preparation to fall back on, the alien conditions and potted gravel tracks Down Under are sure to provide the French rookie with a far sterner test.