It’s not a line you hear every day. But on Friday morning just south of León the line was sung long and loud by Mexicans as far as the eye could see.
“¡Mads para Presidente!”
Mads for president. A couple of days earlier, Østberg had confessed to DirtFish that rallying in México was never a bad thing.
“It’s good for the ego,” he grinned, “when you come here and go to Guanajuato, you are really recognized.”
But Mads for president? Isn’t installing the one-time Rally Portugal winner into Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s office taking this adulation a touch far?
Not when the Norwegian stepped in to save shakedown on Friday morning.
Team Ecuador hadn’t experienced the best of starts, with Diego Serrano slipping off the road at pretty much the final right-hander of shakedown.
The rescue team was rapidly deployed but took a while figuring out how to extricate the Renault Clio from the rocky ditch Serrano had landed it in.
“Do you think I should go?” Østberg asked DirtFish. “OK, I will.”
So he did.
Jumping out of his Škoda Fabia Rally2, which was waiting to go into the now stopped stage, Mads ran in and took control. Lifting rocks out of the way, he organized those on site to guide the car out in a different direction.
“I wanted to get on with it and have another go at the stage,” he laughed, “so I took a little bit of control and we got there.”
For his part, a slightly embarrassed Serrano admitted he’d been caught out by the car’s lack of torque at the precise moment he needed it most.
Having watched the whole thing from high above, the massed ranks of locals began their chant for a change of political power in favor of the Team Norway leader.
The future president of México didn’t disappoint, posting the fastest time on shakedown.
Mexico’s other local hero Benito Guerra Jr was second quickest in another Fabia, while Team UK star Matthew Wilson eclipsed France’s Adrien Fourmaux by half a second.
1 Mads Østberg (Norway) 1m53.8s
2 Benito Guerra (Mexico) 1m55.8s
3 Matthew Wilson (UK) 1m56.1s
4 Adrien Fourmaux (France) 1m56.4s
5 Nil Solans (Spain) 2m01.4s
6 Pep Bassas (Spain) 2m03.7s
7 Hiroki Arai (Japan) 2m04.4s
8 Tom Williams (UK) 2m04.8s
9 Harri Rovanperä (Finland) 2m05.3s
10 Eyvind Brynildsen (Norway) 2m061.s