Ford team principal Malcolm Wilson has admitted he has already been impressed by Mads Ostberg's pace on this week's Rally Germany.
The Norwegian driver is making his debut in a Ford Fiesta S2000 on this week's Trier-based event, having only ever previously competed in a Subaru Impreza WRC. He was fastest of all the Super 2000 crews on the first two stages, before sliding off the road on the third.
"Clearly, he's a natural driver," said Wilson. "His split times on the first stage were fastest until the stage was stopped after another competitor had a problem. Then he was quickest on the next one, before he went off on the last one. I've been impressed. Let's see what comes for the rest of the event."
Ostberg admitted he hadn't had any problems in acclimatizing to the naturally aspirated engine in the Fiesta, but said he was surprised at his speed against the more seasoned S2000 runners.
"I didn't really know what to expect on the event, so this is good," he said. "We have shown the speed, but we also need to keep it on the road. You have to drive this car quite differently to the World Rally car, you have to be committed, but absolutely correct as there isn't the same power from the engine to get yourself out of trouble."
He explained his accident in SS3 and why it caused him such a delay. "Going off on the third stage was very frustrating. It was a miscommunication in the notes and I slid off the road. We should have been going again straight away, but a branch from a tree or something cut the electrical master switch.
"I didn't know what it was, there was no power at all in the car – and with no power, I couldn't get in touch with the team to find anything out. Eventually we found the problem, but we'd dropped five minutes."