Sebastien Ogier: Revised WRC rules throw 2015 battle open

Defending World Rally champion Sebastien Ogier says the 2015 rule changes mean the title battle will not take a clear shape until the final third of the season

Sebastien Ogier: Revised WRC rules throw 2015 battle open

The revised WRC running order regulation this year mean the championship leader will be first onto the stages on the first two days of each rally, potentially encountering the worst road conditions as a result.

Ogier believes that will handicap whoever holds the points lead and prevent any single driver from pulling away in the championship.

"It will be quite difficult if you make a good start in the championship, because then you will be penalised [by running first on the road] and playing catch-up," said the Volkswagen driver.

"But, in the end, it must still be the best driver in the good car winning the championship.

"But it could be that the championship must be played more in the last third of the season, and I am sure this rule will cost me some victories this season."

Hyundai driver Thierry Neuville says the rule change could alter the way some drivers view the opening two rounds of the series in Monte Carlo and Sweden.

"Maybe you can take more of the gamble on these rallies," said the Belgian. "OK, always we push, but maybe you can push even harder and take more risks to try take a big advantage, because you know that if you fail and you don't score so many points then actually you will be in the better position - further down the road - when we get to Mexico."

Ogier agreed with Neuville's point.

"I cannot say that I will not try to win the first two rallies just to avoid opening the road in Mexico, that will never happen," he said.

"But definitely, I will agree that this strategy can happen.

"The first part of the season is not as important as in the past.

"If you start too well in the championship and you are in front then you will be penalised for a lot of rallies and we would then have a harder life during the second half of the season.

"Still, you have to not let the other drivers pull away too much. But, for me, the first third of the year is less important than it was in the past."

MONTE CARLO RALLY - AUTOSPORT COVERAGE

Follow the WRC season-opener as it happens with AUTOSPORT Race Centre Live from 6.45pm UK time on Thursday January 22

Comprehensive WRC 2015 preview package in this week's AUTOSPORT magazine, including:

* Is Thierry Neuville the man who can stop Sebastien Ogier?

* Ari Vatanen's co-driver Terry Harryman relives their incredible 1985 Monte Carlo fightback

* Full team-by-team guide to the 2015 WRC field

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