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Ogier heads to Oz on brink of 2013 title
9 September 2013
Last time out in Germany, clinching the 2013 World Rally Championship title was mathematically possible but rather unlikely - even before things went awry for Sebastien Ogier and his co-driver Julien Ingrassia.
But now, with just four events remaining in the current season, the chance to tie up the title battle is a very real scenario for the French duo as they head Down Under this week.
Ogier will be champion if he picks up nine points more than his closest rival Thierry Neuville (Ford) and one more than Volkswagen team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala. That means that if Ogier were to win the rally and the final power stage in Australia, Neuville would have to come second in both to delay Ogier's celebrations.
"Whereas it was only really a theoretical chance in Germany, we now have a realistic opportunity to secure the title with races to spare," Ogier said. "In Australia it is, to a much greater degree, in our own hands.
"I would like to win both the rally and the closing Power Stage, that is my goal," he said. "And the advantage is that I really like the Rally Australia. The special stages are very quick and very demanding.
"We are well prepared for this challenge, he added. "I am looking forward to this rally."
Certainly the entire Volkswagen team is behind him as they head to the rally base at the port of Coffs Harbour in time for the first event activity on Thursday morning.
“We head to Australia fully motivated,” said Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito. “After the recent disappointment at our home event, where we failed to finish on the podium for the first time this season, we are determined to get back on the podium."
It's not just Ogier's title chances that matter to the team in Australia, it's the manufacturers battle with Citroen that's also coming to a head as the season gets down to the wire.
Capito will be relying not only on Ogier and Ingrassia to do their bit, but also for the assistance of their Volkswagen team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila together with Andreas Mikkelsen and stand-in co-driver Paul Nagle.
"We still have a good chance of winning the World Championship," said Capito. "I am sure our drivers, co-drivers, mechanics and engineers do not need any more motivation than that.
"As always in the WRC, we will have to do a perfect job. However, we have already managed that several times this season," he pointed out. "I can assure you that everyone in the team is focussed on the task ahead and desperate to do their very best in Australia.
"However, we saw in Germany that having a chance of winning the World Championship does not automatically mean you will take that opportunity," he cautioned. "The World Rally Championship is unpredictable – that is what makes it so interesting!"