Volkswagen number one driver Sebastien Ogier has said he love to win Rally Sweden again this coming week, although he knows it is not going to be easy.
The Frenchman put in a brilliant drive on the Karlstad-based event last year and eventually beat Sebastien Loeb by over 40 seconds. It was a historic result, as not only was its VW's first WRC win with the Polo R WRC, and in only the team's second WRC event with it, but it was also only the second time a non-Scandinavian has triumphed in Sweden. Ogier is now looking forward to returning and well he expects stiff competition, he will still start as the favourite for victory.
“Last year, we claimed the first win for Volkswagen here, following a great duel with Sebastien Loeb. That was probably the best rally of my career so far. Like Loeb, we pushed ourselves to the very limit the entire time, and had to give 100 per cent every minute. It paid off in the end though, as we emerged from that extreme challenge victorious. The roles are reversed somewhat in 2014,” stated Ogier, who of course won the 2014 WRC season opener, Rallye Monte Carlo, last month.
“We are now the team that everyone wants to beat. Scandinavians are traditionally hard to beat here. 'Southern Europeans' have only triumphed here twice in the past. As such, I will certainly have one eye on Mikko Hirvonen [at M-Sport] and Mads Ostberg at Citroen, but above all I will be watching out for my two team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen.”
“It will definitely not be easy, but I would love to win here again. Rally Sweden is one of my favourite rallies on the calendar,” he added.
Volkswagen Motorsport director Jost Capito meanwhile is equally enthusiastic about the WRC's only winter event.
“Icy temperatures of ten, even 20 degrees below freezing – and yet everyone here at Volkswagen still gets a warm feeling in their heart when we think about Sweden,” Capito continued. “This is where we won our first WRC rally with the Polo, which came as a complete shock to us all back then. You never forget emotional moments like those.
"The fact that we start the rally here this year as World Championship leaders and defending champions means we are the team to beat right from the word go, but it also provides our drivers, co-drivers, engineers and mechanics with twice the motivation.
“Rally Sweden is very special, as it is the only rally on the WRC calendar held entirely on ice and snow. There is just one option when it comes to tyre selection, so tactics do not come into it. Right from the start it is all about one thing: full throttle.
"We are really looking forward to it.”