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Ogier: New asphalt WRC tyres will be a leveller at Rally Croatia

Toyota’s Sebastien Ogier believes Pirelli’s new dry asphalt rubber will prove a leveller at Rally Croatia.

Sébastien Ogier, Julien Ingrassia, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota Yaris WRC

The long-range forecast for this weekend’s tarmac battle gives for largely dry and sunny conditions.

During his pre-event test, Ogier got to sample the Italian company’s hard compound P-Zero offering.

It will make its first appearance at the event which starts on Friday – alongside the Cinturato rain tyre.

“We have new tyres this season and we have not had the chance so far to drive the slick tyres on dry tarmac,” said Ogier, who will start the rally third on the road.

“The test was important as the experience helped me to learn. I’m pretty happy with the car – I enjoy it – so now it is all about collecting the data and making the best choices in Croatia.

“It is hard to say who is the favourite to win in Croatia. If I am part of them that’s good – but I’ve just mentioned the tyres; they are really playing a big role at the moment because it is all about who can adapt to them as fast as possible, so it is difficult to estimate who is going to be the best in this rally.

“I would say that does make things interesting I’m looking forward to that challenge but it’s hard to say who’s going to be the fast drivers. Let’s see.”

Having the most experience – and success – on asphalt of any other current WRC driver, many see the Frenchman as the man to beat on the newest addition to the series.

However, the reigning WRC champion insists leaving round three as the leader is not the priority given that Rally de Portugal follows immediately after Croatia.

“Of course, I would like to win this rally but we are at the beginning of the season and there is still a very long way to go,” he told Autosport.

“Every point is important for the championship but I’m also aware of the many gravel events coming after Croatia where it’s going to be challenging sat at the front.

“I’ll do my best to be consistent as that’s key to winning, but I’m pretty relaxed going to Croatia.

“Arctic Rally Finland was, of course, disappointing. Only one point but that’s the way it is. Going there as the leader of the championship was unfortunately a very big challenge on top of the mistake from my side [crashing on the final corner of Saturday’s last stage and dropping 20 minutes].

“It cost me some points but not that many. At the end I’m just looking forward and focusing on Croatia.”

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