Sebastien Ogier expects the Volkswagen Polo R WRC to be “very quick” on Rallye Deutschland next week.
Ogier will be chasing his sixth win of the season in Germany in a bid to strengthen his lead in the Drivers' Championship - he is currently 44 points up on team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala, while VW will be looking to deliver on home soil and clinch the Manufacturers' Championship.
Volkswagen heads Citroen by 175 points and if the gap remains at 172 post-round nine, then the team will clinch it for the second year in succession.
“We want to continue the success we have enjoyed so far this season at the Rally Germany. And it is also important to make amends for last year's miserable result by winning this time around,” said Ogier, who finished only 17th in Germany in 2013, after making a mistake early on when he went off the road.
“We have already tested successfully on asphalt this year. This surface also suits the Polo R WRC, so we believe we will be very quick,” he continued. “We have a great chance to successfully defend our World Championship title in Germany, and are determined to take this opportunity.
“The entire team is under greater pressure at its home event than at other rallies, but that can also be an advantage, as you are generally more focussed under these circumstances.”
Ogier knows, however, that it won't be easy, given how demanding the event is and he also expects Thierry Neuville and Kris Meeke to put up a good fight.
“Whatever happens, the Rally Germany will not be a stroll in the park,” Ogier added. “The 'Panzerplatte' stage has proved the undoing of many drivers in the past, as it is so demanding and treacherous.
“We also have some real asphalt specialists in the field – including Thierry Neuville, who was in contention here last year. I believe Hyundai will be very strong. And I will also be keeping an eye on Kris Meeke. He was damn quick in Finland and is very good on asphalt.”
Volkswagen motorsport director Jost Capito meanwhile has reiterated that the squad will be out to make amends.
“We have a score to settle with the Rally Germany since last year, as missing out on the podium at our home event is not a nice memory to have,” Capito confirmed. “Winning in front of your home crowd is always special. No German automobile manufacturer has ever won the German round of the World Rally Championship. Volkswagen has the opportunity to be the first.
“We have proven this season that we are capable of winning in any conditions. We have an extremely successful World Rally Car in the Polo R WRC, the three best driver/co-driver pairings in the world at present, and a team that is highly motivated and works meticulously. We know our strengths – but we also know that you cannot take success for granted in sport. Particularly not in motorsport.
"As such, we will approach the Rally Germany with the same commitment, precision and focus as we have done the twelve victorious rallies leading up to this event, in order to finally give our fans in Germany a win to cheer about.”