Second aids Ogier chase for first
Second place in Spain last weekend was as good as a win for FIA World Rally Championship leader Sébastien Ogier as he chases a fifth straight drivers’ title.
He was unable to match Kris Meeke’s pace at RallyRACC Catalunya - Rally de España, but capitalised on the final day retirement of Thierry Neuville to open a 37-point lead with two rounds remaining.
“This second place feels like a victory. Even though we didn’t quite have the speed on asphalt to fight for the win, we produced a solid race, making no mistakes,” said the Frenchman.
“Given the characteristics of the rally, we knew that a podium would be a good result and from a mathematical point of view it’s a great achievement for us. We arrived in Catalunya aiming to increase our lead and the outcome is even better than expected.”
After a thrilling title battle, Ogier journeys to Dayinsure Wales Rally GB (26 - 29 October) with a first opportunity to secure the crown before the season-ending Kennards Hire Rally Australia (16 - 19 November).
Opening the road in Britain’s first leg should offer Ogier the best conditions in forests likely to be wet and muddy. Doing the same at the final Coffs Harbour-based encounter would be a big disadvantage with slippery loose gravel coating the roads.
“I don’t want to go to Australia with a small gap and then have to open the road while fighting for the championship. I wanted to score well here and make the final step in GB, this was always the plan in my head,” he added.
Team-mate Ott Tänak’s third place in Spain put their M-Sport squad in a virtually unbeatable position in the manufacturers’ championship. A simple finish in Britain for either Ogier, Tänak or Elfyn Evans, irrespective of the position, would be sufficient.
“The target is clear, to try to make the final step to secure both titles on the next rally,” the Ford Fiesta driver said.
Neuville title bid shattered
Hyundai ace philosophical after title hopes disappear
Fighter Meeke relishes Spain win
Mixed surface victory was fifth career success
Meeke reigns in Spain
Boost for Ogier’s title hopes