Sebastien Ogier has produced a defiant response to the controversial end to his Rally Sweden after being handicapped by his starting road position throughout the event.

The reigning World Rally Champion won the 2018 season opener Rallye Monte-Carlo ensuring he’d start the opening leg of Rally Sweden at the front regardless of general classification position. Due to the heavy snow across the Rally Sweden stages Ogier felt he was effectively acting as a snow plough for his WRC rivals.

The effect of being the first driver to clear the snow was evident on the times as Ogier struggled at the bottom of the times in the premier class – at times coming under threat from WRC2 contenders – to leave him down in 11th after the opening day.

With Saturday and Sunday’s action reverting to a reversed running order, meaning the rally leader would start last, it inflicted a double dose of pain for Ogier and M-Sport Ford who was once again one of the first drivers on the road.

Looking to prove a point and avoid a similar fate on the Power Stage, Ogier deliberately missed his start slot to begin the final stage last in order to profit from the cleared course. The five-time WRC champion ended the Power Stage second fastest and scored four points while Ogier kept hold of 10th place after M-Sport teammate Elfyn Evans was hit by a separate time penalty.

Ogier has been a major critic of the WRC running order rules, which were tweaked in 2017 to ensure only the opening leg of an event was run in championship order, and feels it gives an unfair advantage to his WRC rivals.

“For years now I have been fighting for different rules regarding the starting order. In the end, this is a World Championship and everyone tries to do their best and take every chance that there is to win points,” Ogier said.

“At least on this stage [the Power Stage] we had the chance to score some points. I would have preferred to have come here with a realistic chance of fighting for the win or even a podium, but that was not possible from the beginning of this weekend.”

Despite taking five points at Rally Sweden Ogier has lost the WRC drivers’ championship lead to event winner Thierry Neuville who now holds a 10-point advantage on the defending champion.