Ogier looking to bounce back
Reigning champion Sébastien Ogier is looking to put disappointment at Vodafone Rally de Portugal behind him as he looks to claim a fourth victory at next weekend’s Rally Italia Sardegna (7-10 June).
The M-Sport Ford driver was forced to retire on the opening day in Portugal after a pace note error caused him to hit a tree stump and break the suspension on his Fiesta, sending him sliding into the trees on the following corner.
His first no-score of the season meant he forfeited his lead in the championship to rally winner Thierry Neuville.
Ogier now has a 19-point gap to the Hyundai i20 driver in the drivers’ standings thanks to the Belgian also claiming four bonus points on the Live TV Power Stage.
“Portugal was a shame as we had the speed to challenge for the win,” Ogier explained. “It was a small mistake with big consequences, but we put it behind us and are now fully focused on giving it everything we’ve got in Sardinia.”
The one silver-lining for the Frenchman is that he won’t be tasked with opening the road on Friday - but he conceded starting second won’t be much of an advantage.
“We won’t be opening the road this year, but we’ll still have something of an uphill battle with many fast drivers benefitting from a cleaner road behind,” Ogier said.
“Even so, I’m confident that we can challenge for a good result. If we can keep the lead in sight on Friday night then we’ll be in with a good chance – and will push for the best possible result.”
The five-time world champion has good form on the Mediterranean island rally, with three previous wins – most recently with VW in 2015 - from seven World Rally Car starts.
Ogier added: “I’ve learned to really enjoy these demanding stages, it’s a beautiful island but not the easiest of rallies with some very rough and abrasive terrain. You need to keep a margin and stay focused from start to finish – which is exactly what we intend to do.”
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