Sebastien Ogier admits that he expects a difficult start to his World Rally Championship campaign when the 2011 season kicks off in Sweden this weekend.
The French youngster has only taken part in the event once in 2009 and will now tackle the Swedish stages with a new car as Citroen brings its DS3 WRC to the stages for the first time.
Having emerged as a title contender last year, Ogier is widely tipped to be one of the closest challengers to team-mate Sebastien Loeb during the season ahead and he admits he will be driving with one eye on the title in the opening round of the year.
“It's an event I really know very little about, as I've only done it once, in 2009,” he said. “I'm expecting a fairly difficult race, but I know that the season is long, and that the outcome of the championship won't be decided on snow. There are many parameters that can upset the established order, the new regulations, the new Michelin tyres etc.
“Maybe I'll feel in a position to go for victory. If it's not the case, I'll drive a steady race to score a result in view of the championships.”
Ogier said he was impressed with the DS3 from the running he has been able to do so far, but said it was only in competition that the team would see exactly how good the new car really is.
“We've done a lot of running since the middle of the 2010 season with a large number of test sessions on all types of surfaces,” he said. “It's never enough, we always want to do more! There are things to be validated, but overall the car handles well. Racing will provide the best answer to all our questions.”