Former Citroen and M-Sport factory driver Mads Ostberg from Norway is keen to race in the 2019 edition of the ARC Safari Rally slated for July 6-7.
The 67th edition of Safari will count towards the fourth leg of 2019 FIA African Rally Championship and the fifth round of the Kenya National Rally Championship and above all. It will also be a World Rally Championship candidate event with the noble objective to return to the global in circuit in 2019.
The Safari was a WRC event between 1973 and 2002 before FIA axed it from the world series. The Safari could be Ostberg’s second event after Otago Rally of New Zealand.
Otago is the Norwegian’s first confirmed event after losing his seat at WRC’s Citroen Racing.
Reacting to Rhe Star’s recent year-ender which highlighted the growing interest of European works drivers for the forthcoming Safari, Ostberg tweeted: “I will consider any option involving an opportunity to be behind the wheel of a rally car.”
Mark Tufte a.k.a Mark Make Roads Safe, an admin of ‘Rallying in Africa’ page on Facebook, said: “Actually, as I saw Tapio racing the Mini Classic Safari in a Kabras’s Porsche, I asked Ostberg if he’s interested in racing the Safari Rally 2019 in July. In reply, he said he is really interested. I then linked him up with Kabras staff but they couldn’t come to an agreement due to some logistical issues. As we’re both from Norway, it was easier for me to ask him if he would be interested to do the Safari.”
Tufte said: “The Idea came after Ostberg announced he will do Otago Rally in New Zealand in 2019. It was his first confirmed event as he had lost his seat at Citroen Racing. So I told him the Safari could be the second one. Even when he was dealing his contract in Rallycross with Skoda, he got back to me many times to ask about the Safari Rally. Unfortunately, they couldn’t come to an agreement. Nevertheless, all is not lost.’
He is, however, convinced that hosting a top world rally driver like Mads is a great opportunity for African teams and events. “It has a great PR and ROI values. The google search for Otago Rally has significantly increased after Mads announced he’ll do it. We’re always aiming to bring back the WRC in Africa. Africa has some great events; the Safari of course but also Rallye Bandama of Ivory Coast and the York Rally of South Africa.”
Ostberg won the 2012 Portugal Rally when driving a M-sport Ford Fiesta WRC and scored many final podium finishes. He won the Norwegian NRC title three times in 2006, 2007 and 2008. He’s now searching for a contract with an official team in the WRC.