Reigning WRC champion Sebastien Ogier has said he is not afraid to run first on the road on Rally de Portugal next month.
Ogier took his second win of the season last weekend in Mexico, but didn't have to play the primary road sweeper role on the Friday, as he was second in the championship. Instead team-mate, Jari-Matti Latvala had that dubious 'honour'.
However the roles will be reversed on the next event, which is primarily based in the Algarve, and while Ogier conceded he thought about not going for points in the Power Stage in Mexico, something that would have left team-mate, Jari-Matti Latvala top in the championship, he eventually decided against the tactic.
“I was really thinking about it,” Ogier revealed after the third round in WRC 2014 when quizzed on the matter. “I am a clever guy and I wanted to use every situation I could. I wanted to use this option.
"In Portugal, I thought though that it might rain and that to open the road would [actually] be an advantage. I also thought to lose four points here may be a bit stupid. I thought about it [that tactic]. I am certainly not afraid to open the road and I hope to go to Portugal [now] and prove it.”
Reflecting on his dominant win in Leon, Ogier insisted it was not as easy as it looked and that he did have a 'moment' in SS14 on Saturday when he hit a rock.
“Of course, it was really satisfying for me [to win here]. On Thursday, at the press conference, I said I had one goal and that was to win the rally – and we achieved it," he continued. "I am really happy with that.
"What is important is to congratulate all the team. The Polo was fantastic for me. Nothing went wrong at all, no problems, strong and fast. A big thanks to everyone. With Julien [Ingrassia – my co-driver] we just had a good management of the race and took the lead quite early. We started second on the road and then we started to control the rally. Jari-Matti was also doing a good job and, at the end, we have a Volkswagen one-two and 18 wins for me.”
“It was not so easy, however [to win],” he added. “There was a moment. It was a tricky event and it was very slippery conditions. It was not a mistake by me yesterday afternoon but there were rocks on the line and I was at speed on the limit and it was not too wide in this part and I could not avoid it. That is always happening here. I never remember a rally in Mexico with no rocks on the roads.”
Ingrassia meanwhile was equally chuffed with the victory: “We are so happy to win the Mexico rally. On the recce we passed through the stages four times and we got good pace notes. But it feels very long and there are lots of corners. It was a tough rally during the recce and I was a little bit tired.
"But the weather was really good and it was great to see a little sun for the first time since Spain last year,” Ingrassia concluded.