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FIA closes WRC privateer testing loophole after Ostberg row

Mads Ostberg WRC 2017 Argentina

Private entrants have now been banned from testing 2017 World Rally Cars outside Europe, bringing drivers such as Mads Ostberg into line with manufacturers.

Eyebrows were raised and complaints made when Ostberg tested his Onebet Jipocar World Rally Team Ford Fiesta WRC in Argentina before the country's WRC round last month.

Though Ostberg is ostensibly a privateer, the requirement for all 2017 World Rally Car drivers to be entered via a manufacturer team means he is considered under the M-Sport umbrella in paperwork terms.

The FIA has moved quickly to close down the testing regulation, much to Ostberg's frustration.

"I don't really understand that," Ostberg told Autosport.

"I just have to see the funny part - it's a rule that's been here for 15 years and now they change it.

"That's the only benefit I had left. What do I have on the factory teams?

"It's ridiculous. I mean, come on."

The FIA reported complaints from more than one manufacturer with one source explaining: "What's to stop, for example, Citroen from doing a deal with a local driver in Australia?

"They say PH Sport [Citroen's leading customer team] will run the car, go out there and do a week of testing and then hand that data back to the factory team.

"There's a danger that this could start happening, that's why we want to change the rules."

Ostberg's team pointed out that there were no M-Sport engineers or any mechanics from the factory team present at its test in South America.

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