Sebastien Ogier maintains a mere podium on this weekend's Rally Sweden would continue to 'surpass all expectations' despite the four-time champion kicking off his tenure at M-Sport Ford in style with victory in Monte Carlo.
The Frenchman made his much anticipated debut with Malcolm Wilson's M-Sport World Rally Team on the Monte event and instantly proved competitive to run second initially before inheriting the lead and ultimately the win when long-time front runner Thierry Neuville damaged his Hyundai and lost time.
However, despite the relatively familiar outcome for Ogier – who has now won 39 WRC events since his debut in 2008 -, he insists the result was beyond expectations and shouldn't raise expectations further ahead of round two on the snow in Sweden.
“We had a dream start to the season at Rallye Monte-Carlo, but we can't let that distract us,” he said. “There is still a lot of work to do and Rally Sweden is a truly unique event.
“It's an event that I really enjoy and we reach incredible speeds on the snow and ice – something that will only increase with the new cars this year. That means that there are no margins for error and you have to be very precise. There are often just a handful of seconds separating each competitor, so every second really does count.
“If we can secure another podium result next week, it would be a fantastic start and surpass all of our expectations this early in the year. I see no reason why we can't be quietly confident of that, but at the same time it will require a lot of hard work behind the scenes.
“We've not yet seen everyone's true potential, and I'm expected a very exciting and very close-fought Rally Sweden.”
Ogier's win on the Monte Carlo Rally was the first for M-Sport Ford since Jari-Matti Latvala's win on the Rally GB in 2012.