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.

Ogier endured a frustrating Portugal

“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.”

Head to WRC+ to watch All Live from Rally Italia Sardegna, including every stage broadcast live, breaking service park news and expert studio analysis.

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