Sebastien Ogier says he is expecting another “close battle” with Jari-Matti Latvala this week on the mixed surface RallyRACC Catalunya-Costa Daurada.
Ogier beat his Volkswagen team-mate by 11.3s last year en-route
to securing the victory and his second WRC Drivers' title.
This season he returns having already taken his third crown in Australia and after a gear shift problem cost him any hope of a good result last time out in France, he is determined to bounce back, although with so much of the route new, he knows it will be “far from easy”.
“When I think of Rally Spain, the success we have enjoyed for the last two years obviously springs to mind,” Ogier said in the countdown to the penultimate round in the 2015 World Rally Championship. “In 2014, Julien [Ingrassia – my co-driver] and I won to secure our second Drivers'/Co-Drivers' titles and in 2013, we helped Volkswagen wrap up the Manufacturers' Championship with one rally still to come. Those scenes of jubilation and the big smiles on the faces of everyone in the team – you simply don't forget memories like that in a hurry.
“This year we want to have cause for celebration again. Especially after what was a disappointing Rally France for Julien and me. However, it will be far from easy. Over half of the special stages at Rally Spain are new, so we are all starting from scratch. Then there is also the added challenge of the different surfaces on the three days of the rally.
“In 2014 it was a close battle between Jari-Matti Latvala and me. I expect that to be the case again this time. Although we have already won the World Championship, it goes without saying that we will still be pushing hard. I think that is what makes our team so special. Everyone gives 100 per cent.
“We are all hungry to win.”
Volkswagen boss Jost Capito agrees that the event is a tricky one: “Rally Spain is unique. We must ensure the Polo is ideally set up for both gravel and asphalt. This not only means that the driver and co-driver must be wide awake and able to adapt well to the changing conditions, but also puts the entire team to the test – particularly the mechanics,” he explained.
“Nevertheless we have done a good job of switching from gravel to asphalt for the past two years, and have been successful in Spain. This year, we are obviously hoping to make it a hat-trick of wins,” he added.
“Jari-Matti [Latvala] and Miikka [Anttila] dominated on Corsica and travel to Spain brimming with confidence. Sebastien and Julien were unfortunate at their home rally – it goes without saying that they are now hungry to bounce back with what would be their eighth win of the season. [VW Motorsport II men] Andreas [Mikkelsen] and Ola [Floene] have not yet given up on second place in the overall standings [either].
“It will certainly be exciting.”