Sebastien Ogier says he has now fully recovered from the illness that forced him to miss the Fafe Rally Sprint, with the Frenchman seeking to extend his lead in the World Rally Championship this weekend in Portugal.
The Volkswagen driver sat out the warm-up event on the advice of doctors after picking up an influenza infection, leaving Andreas Mikkelsen to fly the flag for VW in his absence.
Now fully recovered. Ogier goes into the Portuguese event seeking to add to the two wins he has enjoyed in the past, having emerged victorious for Citroen in both 2010 and 2011.
“I'm feeling much better now, after illness left me feeling below par last week,” he said. “Withdrawing from the Fafe Rally Sprint was a very tough decision, especially given all the enthusiastic fans. However, it was the right decision in order to allow me to recover fully.
“I really like the rally. It is one of my favourite rallies. In 2010 it was the scene of my first victory in the World Rally Championship, and I won again there in 2011. That makes it the only WRC rally that I have won twice in my career – so far.”
Ogier added that he felt Portugal would give a true indication of the performance of the new Polo WRC against its rivals, with the event set to feature conditions that will be more commonly found than on the previous gravel round in Mexico – where drivers were forced to contend with stages run at altitude.
“We saw at the Rally Mexico that the Polo R WRC is also competitive on gravel, and that is important,” he said. “The coming rally in Portugal is another good indication of where we stand, and will be particularly interesting because those will be the kind of conditions we will come up against most often in the World Rally Championship: hard gravel and stages not much above sea level.
“However, the Rally Portugal has two sides to it. When it is dry there, the ground is very hard and offers a lot of grip. However, when it is wet, the ground becomes very soft and muddy and only offers a very limited amount of grip. We discovered that last year – and it is not particularly fun driving there in those conditions. I much prefer it to be dry.
“A feature of the special stages in Portugal are the many crests and jumps, which are often followed by quick, blind corners. I am confident that we will follow on from our excellent recent performances in Portugal.”