Sebastien Ogier has said Volkswagen is at 'full stretch' now as they enter the 'final phase of preparations' for 2013.
Ogier will lead the VW charge next year with the Polo R WRC and this weekend on Rally Italia Sardegna he will continue his programme 'on events' with the Skoda Fabia S2000, joined by Andreas Mikkelsen, who will pilot the sister car.
“At the moment, rallies and tests are taking turns in almost seamless succession. After Rally France, we directly travelled to tests with the Polo, and it was nice that they were held relatively close to my home town, Gap,” said Ogier, who has clinched as many as nine S2000 class victories so far in the preparatory season for VW and who in doing so has positioned himself in the middle of the world's elite of WRC drivers six times, scoring 31 points in total.
“We're now in the final phase of our preparations for 2013 and are working at full stretch on making the Polo as fast a car as possible. Sardinia on the other hand serves as preparation for the rally team and helps us drivers and co-drivers to become even more familiar with the special stages,” added the 28-year-old
The trip to Rally Italia is not without significance either for Volkswagen, as it was in Sardinia last year that the manufacturer announced its decision to enter the World Rally Championship.
“On returning to Sardinia, our squad, in a way, is coming full circle. This is where the public starting signal for our WRC project was given last year,” Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito remarked. “The penultimate round puts the World Rally Championship on the finishing straight. In Italy, we will again be working seriously and with full concentration on preparing for our entry with the Polo R WRC.
“Therefore, our primary aim is to see both cars finish in Porto Cervo if at all possible. Naturally, though, we're also driven by the ambition to continue our string of ten class victories to date at the two last WRC rounds.”
Mikkelsen meanwhile is keen to continue to impress in a bid to secure a seat with the team next season. His outing this weekend will be his sixth under the VW Motorsport banner.
“After the good result in France, I'm very much looking forward to the next run with Volkswagen,” said the reigning IRC champion, who has previously competed in Sardinia in the Italian Rally Championship
“Sardinia has totally different characteristics; we're running on hard gravel, with many jumps and even passages through water. For me, it's about becoming even more familiar with the rally and trying to keep up with the pace of my quick team-mate.”