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Ogier: Winning in Finland 'a dream come true'
4 August 2013
With four wins under his belt so far in 2013, a fifth would appear to be just another day at the office for runaway World Rally championship leader Sebastien Ogier. But from his comments after claiming victory in Finland, it's clear that this week's victory was still a very special one for the Frenchmen.
"This win here in Finland is a dream come true for me," he said after the podium celebrations. "And to win in Sweden as well this year – it is a great feeling to win these two rallies this year ahead of the Nordic guys like Mads Ostberg, Mikko Hirvonen and Jari-Matti Latvala."
In the end the victory came relatively easily after setbacks for his closest rivals in the event, which allowed him to take a fairly controlled and almost laid-back approach to the stages on Saturday.
"With a lead of over 30 [seconds[ from the first two days, I did not want to take too many risks today," Ogier agreed. "My strategy was to think about the championship."
But Finland hadn't got off to the best of starts for the Frenchman: "My start to the race was a bit difficult, I couldn't find the best pace - I wasn't able to focus," he admitted. "Then on the second loop I could find more pace when I was sure with the notes. I was pushing and trying to be more safe - with the rain some parts of the stage were tricky and rough. We got through them and finished the rally with no problem."
But even with the title firmly in his mind, there was one exception to the 'take no risks' strategy he'd mapped out for himself, where even he couldn't resist letting rip come what may and ended up setting a new time record of 15:08.9s for the stage.
"Only on the 'Ouninpohja' special stage did I really push myself to the limit, as that stage is simply fantastic. For me, it was the first time in a World Rally Car and the speed with the Polo R WRC left me speechless," he said.
"Even if you have watched the video a little bit before and you trust the pace notes 100 per cent, the heart rhythm goes higher," he continued. "When I was sure with the notes and we pushed, it was a lot of fun. In the end, it was hard with the tyres completely gone - it was too hot for the softs. It was fantastic to drive this stage and it's also a small bonus to have this record."
Victory in Finland puts him on 181 points in the WRC standings, almost twice the tally of his closest rival (and Volkswagen team mate) Jari-Matti Latvala who finished outside the points in Finland after a second stage accident left him too far behind to catch up when he restarted on Saturday under Rally 2 provisions.
"I knew my closest rival was out of the race for points and then I had a good opportunity to make good points," Ogier said. "My lead in the World Rally Championship has increased, but I am not concentrating on that today – I just want to enjoy the win with my team now," he insisted.
But the reality is that Ogier could now clinch the 2013 WRC title as early as the next race.
"Mathematically, it's possible, but quite difficult," he said. "The most important thing is that it happens - I don't care where, if it's Australia, France or even later, I will be very happy for that.
"It will be a big fight to the end of the season. I hope it happens as soon as possible to get my mind really clear - then I can push even more completely to the limit," he added. "This is another great step."