Volkswagen’s Sebastien Ogier believes his eleventh-hour victory at Rally Sweden was one of the best of his career.
The Frenchman secured the result in the last 5km of the final stage, when his team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen spun his Polo R and threw away a slender 2.7sec lead.
It was a dream result for Ogier, who as championship leader had the dubious honour of driving first through the snow-covered stages on Friday and Saturday. He was further disadvantaged by a spin on Friday than left him marooned on a snow bank for 30seconds.
“I arrived here with serious doubt that I could fight for the victory,” Ogier acknowledged. “I knew I would have to face difficult conditions so I decided to take all the risks and push from the first stage to the end. There was some small problems, of course, but we were driving at more than 100 per cent all the time. In the end it was an unbelievable finale. I am incredibly proud of this win. It is certainly one of my best.”
Ogier maintained his flat-out approach right to the end of the Power Stage, adding three bonus points to the 25 he took for the overall win.
“I’ve had some similar situations in the past,” he said. “I remember Jordan 2011 where I was fighting with Jari-Matti. He was five-tenths ahead going into the final stage and I beat him by two-tenths at the end. It was exciting like that here, but it was somehow easier to manage because I knew we had to go flat out - no question.”
The win was the Frenchman’s 26th at world championship level and draws him level with 1990 and 1992 champion Carlos Sainz. He is now third in the list of all-time greats, behind Marcus Gronholm (30 wins) and Sebastien Loeb (78 wins).