Tuesday | 25 May 2021

Ogier urges Toyota to find more speed for Italy

Sébastien Ogier says his Toyota Gazoo Racing team must find more speed at next week’s Rally Italia Sardegna (3 - 6 June).

Ogier hung onto his FIA World Rally Championship lead by finishing third on Sunday at Vodafone Rally de Portugal.

But both the Frenchman and team-mate Elfyn Evans, who closed to within two points after winning the Matosinhos-based event, admitted their Yaris cars were not the fastest on the Iberian gravel.

Toyota were outscored 13 - 7 by Hyundai Motorsport in stage wins and Ogier said a step-up was required ahead of the Italian gravel road fixture.

Video: Vodafone Rally de Portugal best of action

“Not being in the fight for the best times is not pleasant,” he admitted. “This was partly due to the road sweeping, but also to the fact that I didn’t feel 100 per cent in the car.

“Maybe that’s linked to our as yet limited acquaintance with the Pirelli tyres and to the fact that our pre-event test was in the rain and so didn’t allow us to get to know them in the kind of conditions we raced in.

“I think it hasn’t been performance-wise my strongest weekend ever. Even if I would have done a perfect job I don’t believe I could have made better than third at the end, but we need to keep working as speed hasn’t been good enough this weekend.

“Anyhow, we'll have a lot of work to do on this week’s day of testing, when we hope to make a step forward in terms of performance.”

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Ogier claimed three bonus points in Sunday’s Fafe Wolf Power Stage to retain top spot in the WRC standings. It means he will again clean the sandy special stages by opening the road in Friday’s opening leg when grip is at its lowest.

He said he never considered forfeiting bonus points by slowing, forcing Evans into the championship lead to gain slightly better conditions from second in Italy’s start order.

“I think every point is important to take,” Ogier added. “No one wants to open the road in Sardinia but you never know what happens. My strategy has always been to collect as much as I can and I keep this strategy. I think it has been proved quite right in the past.”

“Another reason is because this year the Power Stage points also counts for the manufacturers’ championship and so it’s our responsibility to score as many as possible.”

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