Volkswagen's Sebastien Ogier has expressed his delight after winning Rally de Portugal and has revealed that he felt so ill ahead of the fourth round in the 2013 World Rally Championship that he wasn't even sure he would be able to start.
Despite not being at full strength however, the Frenchman still lead the way at the end of the opening leg in his Volkswagen Polo R WRC, 4.4 seconds up on Dani Sordo.
He then extended his advantage on Saturday, winning four of the six stages, and while he did have a scare on the final day, when a mechanical issue cost him time in the opening test, he eventually won by almost a minute.
It was his third win in succession - and also the third event in succession he has taken both
the victory and the Power Stage honours to scoop a maximum 28 points.
“Unbelievable,” said Ogier. “What a rollercoaster ride here in Portugal! I am overjoyed with the win. First the illness, then the brutal stages, which really push a rally car to the very limit.
“When we had the problem with the power transmission on this morning's opening stage, I thought: 'That's it Seb. The rally is over.' Fortunately we made it to the service and the guys did a fantastic job there. I think we really deserved the win.
“The rally was extremely demanding and difficult, for the car, the entire team, and particularly for me. When I arrived in Portugal on Monday evening, I was not certain whether I would be able to start.
“I was always tired and my energy reserves were completely empty. I was largely able to blank it out whilst I was driving, as the body is running on adrenalin then – but I certainly did not feel top fit. Fortunately my condition improved considerably over the last two days. I will now try to get as much rest and regain as much strength as possible in time for Argentina [the next event].”
The result sees Ogier increases his lead in the Drivers' Championship to 54 points, but despite that, he isn't getting carried away.
“Looking at the Championship, maybe it looks easy for me, but Mads [Ostberg] and Dani [Sordo] were very, very fast [here] before their mistakes. It will be a big fight to keep this kind of result all the year, but now we have a good advantage,” he added.
“Now we don't need to win the rallies, but this is not my plan: I am a competitor and I like the taste of victory.
"But I know I have to be clever for the rest of season,” he summed-up.