Mads Østberg will fight to become European Rally champion in 2023, driving a Citroën C3 Rally2 for MRF Tyres.
Østberg told DirtFish last December that he was working on an ERC program for this season, but he has now confirmed his entry.
He will be part of a mega lineup of MRF drivers which includes defending champion Efrén Llarena, ERC event winner Mārtiņš Sesks and former WRC2 rival Pontus Tidemand.
Østberg explained that there are multiple reasons for choosing ERC this year.
“I think first of all it’s a very interesting championship with some new rallies [and] the promoter is very keen to promote it in a good way,” he told DirtFish.
“I think also the link now with WRC Promoter is making the championship more visible and more easy to access, and I think the competition there seems to be very good now with so many drivers.
“Also to be in a championship where Rally2 is the top category is something positive and I think from my personal side it’s a new challenge as well – it’s something I am motivated to do.
“I have done WRC2 many years and WRC many years and it was more interesting for me to work towards a program in ERC rather than WRC2.”
Naturally, Østberg’s target is to win the championship.
“I know it’s going to be hard and I know there are competitors there which I don’t really know the potential of, let’s say, because it’s people I haven’t competed with before,” he said. “Also with all the new rallies, you need some experience normally to win rallies.
“But still I feel that we have good speed, I feel very comfortable with my performance nowadays and I think we should be able to challenge for the title which, of course, is the target.
“But I’m sure it won’t be easy.”
On working with MRF, Østberg added: “I think it’s very interesting and very motivating.
“OK MRF is not a new tire manufacturer but in our business it’s quite new, and I think it’s very motivating to work so closely with a tire manufacturer which is so motivated and wants to improve all the time.
“They have a good plan going forward for the next years where they want to improve and want to become, let’s say, one of the dominant brands in rally, so for me it’s very appealing to be a part of that and hopefully we can take advantage of each other to improve both the tires and of course also for me to be successful.”
The first round of the ERC, Rally Serras de Fafe, begins next week (March 10-12).