Volkswagen driver Sebastien Ogier has admitted 'luck' played a major part in his success on Rallye Monte Carlo last weekend.
The Frenchman was 'overjoyed' to start the 2014 WRC season with a win and eventually took the spoils by over a minute [see separate story – HERE
]. However reflecting on the event on Sunday after the official podium ceremony, he added that it could all have ended very differently given he slid into a wall in the very first corner on the very first stage...
“Of course it's very good [to win] and like you mentioned, this is the best way to re-start the season - like we finished the last one! It was a tough race for us though; we were not so good on day one,” recounted the 2013 World Rally champion. “We struggled with the weather information and we went wrong, fortunately everybody behind us copied us.
“If somebody had been clever behind us and taken snow tyres, maybe they would have taken the lead by five minutes on day one. We passed, but I can tell you it was quite lonely in the car when we were on slicks on snow.
“We had luck on this rally, we have to admit it. It could have ended in the first corner – there was slush and it was crazy. I understeered immediately and hit the wall. We improved the car in the winter: we reinforced all of the arms and maybe it was a good idea, otherwise it might have been the end of the rally...”
Pressed on how they got the tyre choice wrong, especially given he was born in Gap and it is his local area, Ogier added: “We made the tyre choice one hour before the start of the stage and during this one hour the weather completely turned.
“There was humidity when the gravel crew passed and then it turned to snow. The mistake we did is we should have been clever. We know how quickly the weather can change. We know in winter conditions the weather can change very quickly and you know you should always be safe and take two snow tyres in the boot at least. But we didn't do it. We had too much confidence and trust in the information. But almost everyone copied us. Okay we lost quite a bit of time but it was still possible to come back.”
Ogier also added that he found each leg difficult: “We just talked about the first day, the first afternoon was difficult [too], but from day two there was more rain, and a lot of mud – the rain was heavy all the time,” he continued. “Every cut was full of mud, especially the second loop was a big challenge.
“Bryan [Bouffier] was very fast on the second loop, we took back a bit of time, but not too much [and then he spun]. When the conditions turned slippery we made a bit more the difference, but it was never enough really.
“Then when you finish the race with Turini [on day three] you have to have a one minute lead to stay in the race really; you cross this famous col with the slush and on tricky tyres. It was good to be last on the road for us to check what the others were doing and look at the lines.”
“[All-in-all] every day was tough,” he concluded.