Volkswagen Motorsport director Jost Capito has told Sebastien Ogier
he will be free to really 'go for it' on Rallye de France next month.
Ogier will go into his home event looking to secure the 2013 WRC Drivers' Championship, after falling a point short in Australia last weekend.
With Sebastien Loeb
returning though, Ogier will be keen to do all he can to show his compatriot who is now 'boss', especially as the event in Alscae is likely to be Loeb's final in the WRC, at least for the foreseeable future.
Speaking following the tenth round in the 2013 World Rally Championship in Oz, Capito added that now Volkswagen has a 40-point lead in the Manufacturers', he is happy to let his number one driver off the leash.
“For Volkswagen, this [the Manufacturers' title] is very important. At the start of the season we never thought we would be in a position to fight for one title, but now we are in this position and [can win two titles] we want both,” Capito said. “To get the lead [now] with more than 40 points, this allows Seb to really fight in France.
“If the gap was smaller, we might have had some tough words [with Ogier], but now he can really go for it. I'm sure he's happy with this.”
Asked about the dramatic final stage in Oz, which saw Ogier denied the title, when Citroen's Mikko Hirvonen
picked up a puncture and dropped from P2 to P3, Capito admitted that what happened was both good and bad.
“It's difficult to describe the feeling [after the Power Stage]. Going into the final stage was very tense – everything can go wrong in the final stage. This happened with Jari-Matti [Latvala] and the same happened to Mikko, when they have the big vibration with no idea why [and then a puncture]. Seb was on the way to a very good time and that would have secured the title and then okay, these things happen..." Capito continued.
“Okay, this increases our advantage in the Manufacturers' by quite a margin [as Mikko dropped from second to third]. But I am not so happy for Seb and Julien [Ingrassia – his co-driver]. They have done an outstanding job and all of the company is very proud of them. But it is good for the Manufacturers' and we are supporting them [Ogier and Ingrassia].”
“Sebastien won more convincingly than at any other event this season, and did everything right. He would've deserved to go away as World Rally Champion but the decider will have to wait," Capito added. “Now he's got the opportunity to seize the title once and for all at his home rally in France. The whole team will support him unconditionally there.
“The battle for the WRC Manufacturers' Championship will enter its next phase in France too.
"Thanks to Jari-Matti and Andreas [Mikkelsen, who finished fourth and sixth], we're in a better position on that front than we were before Rally Australia. We're really happy – even though the icing on the cake is missing,” Capito summed-up.