Sebastien Ogier pulled off a 'giant killing' result on Rally Italia Sardegna last weekend.
Ogier has spent this year competing in a Volkswagen Motorsport-run Skoda Fabia S2000, as VW gears up to enter the sport 'proper' in 2013 with the Polo R WRC. Prior to the penultimate round his best overall result this season had been a sixth place in Germany, but he went one better in Sardinia and got fifth, a historic achievement, as it is the best position ever achieved by a Super 2000 car in the overall classification of the World Rally Championship.
The Frenchman was also involved in the fight for fourth on the third day, and while he couldn't hold off Mads Ostberg in the more powerful Adpata WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC, he did do enough on the final day to see off the challenge of Chris Atkinson's WRC MINI Team Portugal John Cooper Works WRC. Indeed he was quicker than the Aussie in the penultimate stage on Sunday to extend his overnight cushion from 3.9 seconds to 5.3 seconds and in the end easily finished ahead when his rival picked up a puncture.
“Intervening in the battle for the front positions was a lot of fun. The team did a brilliant job and gave us a perfect car. It was a perfect weekend and we got the perfect result,” Ogier remarked. “I'm very happy to give it to the team also as a boost of confidence in preparation for next year. We were probably helped by our start position and because we saved tyres with the S2000. But it was still good fun in the car and we had a very good drive”.
Furthermore, in addition to taking fifth, Ogier also set a number of good stage times and remarkably was quickest outright in SS5 - another 'first'.
“The situation was the same for all of the top flight teams [ahead of Tergu-Osilo 1, SS5]. All had opted for soft tyres in the morning and before starting on SS5 I noticed that the tyres of the WRC cars had already heavily worn. I knew that this was the chance of clinching a very good [stage] result. I tried to take it easy on my tyres while being as fast as possible in the process, and I managed to do that,” he explained.
Ogier's performance was hailed by all those in the sport, with VW motorsport director, Jost Capito unsurprisingly very happy: “An outstanding showing by Sebastien – beating the more powerful WRC cars on a gravel stage underlines his class as a driver and his cleverness. He recognised the situation that the tracks in Sardinia at times put a very heavy strain on the tyres and made perfect use of it,” Capito added.
Andreas Mikkelsen meanwhile also went well in the other VW Motorsport Skoda Fabia S2000 and he finished in seventh place, equally what he achieved in August on Rallye Deutschland.
“I'm very happy with our performance. Sardinia is one of the most difficult rallies – there are stones lurking everywhere on the narrow tracks. Even a small mistake can mean the end.
"That's why it was important for me to gather further experience here,” stated the Norwegian.