Sébastien Ogier described the error that cost him a shot at victory at Rally Sweden last weekend as one of the ‘most stupid’ he has ever made.
Despite being handicapped by opening the road on Friday, he went into Sunday’s final leg in third, 16.6sec behind eventual winner Jari-Matti Latvala, and with an outside chance of adding another success to his season-opening Rallye Monte-Carlo triumph.
A spin just metres after the start of the opening Likenäs special stage ended that opportunity and the four-time world champion settled for the final step on the podium behind M-Sport team-mate Ott Tänak.
“I did one of the most stupid mistakes of my career,” he admitted. “In the first corner, after 50 metres of the stage, I just got caught by the inside snow bank and spun. Then I stalled the engine and I knew my chances were over already.”
The Frenchman was pleased to add four bonus points from the final Power Stage to the 15 gained for third place. It leaves him just four behind championship leader Latvala after little testing time in the Ford Fiesta following his late decision to join the British squad.
“In the end I can say that my weekend was a difficult one but what I got from it is really good because 19 points I’m very happy with. It’s a good step for the championship.
“I knew before the start of the season that I was going to start a bit behind the others in terms of preparation. I feel that I still struggle a little bit with the car and I still struggle to find the perfect settings.
“But to see the results we achieve, even if I don’t have the best confidence, isn’t so bad,” he added.
Ogier finally gets the opportunity to test the Fiesta on gravel next week, ahead of Rally Guanajuato Mexico (9 - 12 March). He has two days in Spain on Sunday and Monday.
His only previous experience of the car on dirt was a 60km trial in Wales in November as he explored the available options with different manufacturers for 2017.