WRC points leader Sebastian Ogier says Rally de Portugal will be a clear indicator of Polo’s speed.
The Frenchman believes Portugal this week will paint a much better picture of his VW Polo R’s competitiveness for the remainder of this year’s World Rally Championship.
He will arrive for the annual Algarve event having already built up a comfortable WRC lead thanks to astonishing performances in his VW Polo R’s first three appearances.
Monte Carlo, Sweden and Mexico are all unique events, though, whereas Portugal has similarities to other fixtures that will come later in the season. Ogier is no doubt that this weekend’s event will be his Polo’s truest test so far.
Portugal has two sides to it
He commented: “We saw at the Rally Mexico that the Polo R WRC is competitive on gravel and that is important. The coming rally in Portugal is another good indication of where we stand and will be particularly interesting because those will be the kind of conditions we will come up against most often in the WRC: hard gravel and stages not much above sea level.
“But Portugal has two sides to it. When it is dry there, the ground is very hard and offers a lot of grip. However, when it is wet the ground becomes very soft and muddy and only offers a very limited amount of grip.
"We discovered that last year – and it is not particularly fun driving there in those conditions. I much prefer it to be dry.”
Ogier will be going for his third win in Portugal after winning there in 2010 and 2011 while team-mate to Loeb at Citroen. Victory would also mark his third straight win in this year’s championship and would surely underline his status already as red hot favourite for the title.
It is one of my favourite rallies
He added: “I am confident that we will follow on from our excellent recent performances in Portugal as I really like the rally. It is one of my favourite rallies. In 2010 it was the scene of my first victory in the WRC and I won again there in 2011. That makes it the only WRC rally that I have won twice in my career… so far.”
Ogier also says he is back to full fitness after a bout of influenza forced him to miss last weekend’sFafe rally sprint – a warm-up to Rally de Portugal held in the north of the country.
He continued: “I'm feeling much better now, after illness left me feeling below par last week. Withdrawing from the Fafe sprint was a very tough decision, especially given all the enthusiastic fans.
"However, it was the right decision in order to allow me to recover fully.”