Ger­man Tar­mac brings run­ning or­der de­ba­cle to an end

Motor Sport News - - Headline News - By David Evans

Fri­day morn­ing can’t come soon enough for Se­bastien Ogier. He’s got a point to prove.

Since start­ing the sea­son with back-to-back wins, the reign­ing World Rally cham­pion has been made to pay for his suc­cess. Forc­ing him first on the road for 10 of the last 15 days of gravel ral­ly­ing means he hasn’t topped the podium since Karl­stad. In Fe­bru­ary. Not that he’ll ad­mit as much, he doesn’t just want to win this week’s Rally Ger­many, he wants to dom­i­nate it.

He’ll be keen to show all those pre­tenders to his crown just what hap­pens when he shows up to a gun­fight… with a gun. The level play­ing field he has craved for months is here. Now watch him go.

Talk­ing just hours af­ter watch­ing Kris Meeke join him as the only driver to win two WRC rounds this sea­son, the French­man said: “If we had one rea­son to cel­e­brate on Sun­day evening, it was the end of this se­ries of six gravel ral­lies –which we started know­ing we didn’t have the slight­est chance of win­ning. Men­tally speak­ing, it will do us good to go into the next ral­lies know­ing that we can re­ally fight for vic­tory from the front. That doesn’t mean I’m say­ing we’ll win; it’s never easy in the WRC – far from it! But I can’t wait for the start in Ger­many and I hope we’ll be fight­ing it out with the best of them. I am highly mo­ti­vated and very keen to re­peat the suc­cess of last year.”

Ogier will be look­ing to pick up where he left off in Trier 12 months ago. The Gap driver scored stage wins on 14 of the 21 tests and was only out of the top two times on four oc­ca­sions. In short, he con­trolled the rally from start to fin­ish – and did so un­der the ex­treme pres­sure of need­ing to land VW’S first win at home fol­low­ing its two pre­vi­ous dis­as­trous out­ings.

“Test­ing in the run-up [to the event] went re­ally well,” said Ogier. “Mak­ing the change from gravel to as­phalt was quick and with­out is­sue. We had a mix of sun­shine and a few show­ers, so we were able to try out the var­i­ous set-up ver­sions for the Polo R WRC – and Miche­lin’s new wet tyres. That could play a role since the stages are ex­tremely tough in wet weather and er­rors are pun­ished with­out mercy. Rally Ger­many is Volk­swa­gen’s home event, so the whole team wants to de­liver a par­tic­u­larly good per­for­mance in front of the fans.”

Ogier wants to be the first driver to win three ral­lies in 2016, he wants to ex­tend his lead at the top of the ta­ble, but more than any­thing, he wants to ex­ert the kind of power and con­trol which car­ried him to 25 wins in 39 starts in his first three years with Volk­swa­gen.

And his record in Ger­many is strong: he won the Ju­nior WRC cat­e­gory on his first ever Trier out­ing in 2008, fin­ished on the podium on his first time in a World Rally Car and took out­right suc­cess at only his third at­tempt in 2011, beat­ing then team­mate Se­bastien Loeb.

Ogier ended VW’S home vic­tory drought in 2015

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