Mads Østberg’s co-driver Torstein Eriksen has switched allegiances to partner 2021 WRC2 rival Andreas Mikkelsen for the 2022 World Rally Championship season.
Eriksen, who won the WRC2 co-drivers’ title for a second year in succession this season due to drivers’ champion Mikkelsen switching navigators through the year, has worked with Østberg since 2012 as part of his gravel crew but first co-drove for him on Rally Finland, 2017 in a Ford Fiesta WRC.
He then became Østberg’s full-time co-driver from 2018 where the pair competed in a Citroën C3 WRC before regressing to R5 and then rebranded Rally2 machinery for the past three seasons.
However with Eriksen’s decision to partner fellow Norwegian Mikkelsen – a decision Østberg claimed on social media was due to “a financial offer I am not able to meet” – Østberg will be co-driven by Patrik Barth in 2022.
Barth has been part of Østberg’s gravel crew on events since 2017 when he hasn’t been competing alongside the likes of Pontus Tidemand. Ironically, it was Tidemand and Barth that Østberg and Eriksen beat to the 2020 WRC2 title.
“Torstein and I have enjoyed a long and good companionship since 2012 when he was part of my gravel crew,” said Østberg in a statement.
“We have many good results together with several podium places in WRC and two gold and one silver in the co-driver WRC2 championship.
“I can surely say that our cooperation has been good from the first to the last rally, good work, good relation and good friendship.
“It was a surprise I must admit,” he added on Eirksen’s decision to link up with Mikkelsen, “but fortunately I have a perfect replacement in Patrik Barth with whom I have worked with since 2017.
“With the exception of 2020 when Patrik was in my main competitor’s car in WRC2 with Pontus Tidemand, Patrik has been part of my team as gravel crew. He has also been my co-driver in ERC back in 2017.
“I know what I can expect, and to be honest I am very happy.”
Østberg’s 2022 program is yet to be confirmed, but he is understood to be considering another WRC2 title attack as well as some European Rally Championship events and rallies back home in Norway or Sweden.
Mikkelsen meanwhile is likely to undertake another season in WRC2, beginning with next month’s Monte Carlo Rally, but has openly admitted he is hunting for opportunities in a Rally1 car.
There has been no confirmation or comment from neither Mikkelsen nor Eriksen on their 2022 partnership.