Volkswagen's Sebastien Ogier expects Qatar M-Sport WRT man Mads Ostberg to be a key player in the battle for the 2013 WRC drivers' title.
Speaking exclusively to Crash.net
ahead of next week's Rally de Portugal, the championship leader said that, following the Norwegian's performances in Sweden and Mexico, where he pushed Ogier for the wins, he expects Ostberg to mount a serious title challenge during the rest of the season.
“As you saw, he was very strong in Sweden and also very strong in Mexico until his problem,” Ogier said.
The VW driver also suggested that were compatriot Sebastien Loeb contesting all 13 WRC events this season, he would also expect a strong challenge from his former team-mate and nine times World Rally Champion.
However, considering Loeb's limited programme of four events, for obvious reasons, Ogier sees Ostberg as a bigger threat.
“Sebastien [Loeb] would have been [up] there too for sure, but he is only doing four events and has done two already,” Ogier added, “It is still Mads I see to be in a very strong position.”
Despite praising Ostberg's and M-Sport's performances though, Ogier believes that his former team Citroen will be Volkswagen's biggest challenger for the Manufacturer's Championship.
“For sure it is Citroen as they have two consistent drivers in Mikko [Hirvonen] and Dani [Sordo],” he explained. “Mikko is very consistent and Seb [Loeb] won in Monte Carlo and he was then competitive again in Sweden.”
Despite having a 31-point cushion over Loeb, Ogier stopped short of claiming he is the championship favourite for 2013, but did admit that the second place in Monte Carlo and the victories in Sweden and Mexico have made life for him and VW 'easier.'
“We're not really in a position to say if we are the favourites for the title yet, but it's nice to hear this,” he continued, “However, we have to remember that the championship is long, we've just done three rounds and there is a long way to go, but I will say that the podiums and the win have made our life easier, that's for sure.”
by George East