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Ogier: Surpassing Markku Alen’s WRC Portugal record “means a lot”

Eclipsing World Rally Championship great Markku Alen as the most successful driver in Rally Portugal history is a moment Sebastien Ogier says he will cherish.

Sébastien Ogier, Vincent Landais, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Photo by: Toyota Racing

Eight-time world champion Ogier added yet another record to his glittering resume by scoring a record sixth career Rally Portugal after beating Hyundai’s Ott Tanak by 7.9s. The triumph marked Ogier’s 60th WRC win and his second from three rallies during a part-time campaign for Toyota this year.

Rally Portugal, one of the founding members of the WRC in 1973, is a special place for Ogier having scored his first WRC win in 2010 for the Citroen Junior Team. Further wins followed in 2011 (Citroen), 2013-2014 (Volkswagen) and 2017 (M-Sport Ford) and until now, Ogier had been tied with 1978 FIA Cup champion Alen for most wins in Portugal (1975, 1977, 1978, 1981, 1987).

Now standing on his own in the Rally Portugal record books, 40-year-old Ogier admitted his latest triumph was a special victory.

“It is [special] for sure. It looks like every weekend I get to enjoy nice new number, so I have to enjoy these moments and cherish them as you never know when it is going to end,” Ogier told Autosport.

“But at the moment we are still having a good run and my age hasn’t hit us too bad yet, so we have to continue like this.

“It means a lot as he [Markku] is a legend. I have heard this comparison for years now and somehow it is nice to have this behind me, although I have enjoyed tying with him on this record.”

The passage to victory was not straightforward as Ogier initially struggled with the setup of his Toyota on Friday, before emerging from an intense fight with Tanak.

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

Ogier felt the secret to the success was “almost perfect race management” across the 22 stages. The only negative in Ogier’s eyes was the fact he left Portugal, scoring one point less than Tanak under the new points system that continues to split opinion.

“I think it is pretty clear that our race management was as close to perfect this weekend, and that is what brought us to where we are today,” he said.

“We pushed when we needed to and when I felt 100% in the car I pushed and managed to make some good times. Then when the situations were a bit more challenging and more tricky, I thought about it. The consistency was our biggest advantage and I still think we were the best performer.

“Three rallies, two wins and second place, it really isn’t that bad at all. The only not-so-bright side is the points as it is not reflecting at all what we have achieved. We don’t even need to discuss it anymore as it is clearly wrong.”

Toyota team principal Jari-Matti Latvala believes the way Ogier secured victory highlighted why the Frenchman has won eight world titles.

“Seb was magnificent and once again he was so mature and the way he was able to drive, and the pressure was there from Ott, I have to say he is very clever,” said Latvala.

“He knows the situation, and he goes fast but if the conditions are bad, he doesn’t push the car too much to the limit. This is why he has won the championship so many times.”

Ogier will rejoin the Toyota for the next two WRC rounds in Sardinia and Poland.

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