WRC leader Sébastien Ogier says he’s happy to carry a points advantage into the season finale in Australia – even if his start position could be worse than that of chief rival Thierry Neuville.
The M-Sport Ford World Rally Team driver nudged the Hyundai driver off top spot in the standings after finishing second at RallyRACC Catalunya – Rally de España.
Neuville could only manage fourth and it’s the first time Ogier has led the title race since April.
Three points separate Ogier and Neuville heading into the final round at Kennards Hire Rally Australia (15-18 November). The Frenchman’s lead means his Fiesta will be the first to pass through the loose gravel stages in Coffs Harbour, sweeping the surface to the benefit of those following.
With Neuville set to start second – a position that he won the event from in 2017 – it could be argued that the Belgian will enjoy better levels of grip.
However, having won the event from first in the start order in 2015, Ogier doesn’t believe his road position will be a major handicap and is pleased to have extra points in the bag before the Australian action gets underway.
“I would rather keep my position,” Ogier explained. “If you have the points, you have the points, but if you have to score them it is a different story. He [Neuville] will have an advantage at the start, but the pressure is on him.”
“The difference between starting first and second in Australia is so close. But you never know, we could still have some rain and tricky conditions.”
Reflecting on his result in Spain, Ogier was frustrated that he could have earned an even bigger points advantage heading to Australia, had it not been for an incorrect tyre strategy that eased Sébastien Loeb’s course to victory.
“We have been always wrong – more or less – except for the last loop,” Ogier said. “With the right tyres it was better, but earlier we always went in the wrong direction and didn’t have the best information to make our choice.”