Sebastien Ogier has admitted he didn’t think he could win Rally Italia Sardegna after suffering a poor start on day one.
As the leader of the championship, the Frenchman had the unenviable task of driving his VW Polo R WRC first through all eight of Friday’s rough gravel stages.
With lots of slippery gravel on the road hampering his progress, he found himself 22.9s behind team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala in the race for the rally lead at the close of day one.
“The first one (day) was really frustrating,” he said. “Even though we were pushing, we were losing time all the time and at the midday on Friday I was quite disappointed and was thinking maybe this weekend I would fight for a podium and maybe nothing more.”
But the reigning world champion’s fortunes improved on the second run through Friday’s loop of stages as the road cleaned and he benefitted from other drivers making mistakes and dropping time. This gave Ogier the opportunity to claw his way back up the leaderboard to an amazing second place.
He eventually forced his way into the rally lead at the end of day two when Latvala stopped to change a punctured tyre. Ogier went on to win the rally by 1m 23.1s to cap an amazing turnaround and to record his fourth victory of the season. He also sealed VW’s 16th WRC win in only 19 events.
Ogier will now head to Rally Poland (June 26-29) with a 33-point lead in the championship standings. But he’ll also face the prospect of running first on the road again on gravel stages that are expected to offer little in the way of grip.
He said: “Right now, I don’t want to think about it because I’ll have to lead through a frustrating day again. I will enjoy this victory and concentrate on Poland later.”