Sébastien Ogier’s not in it for the numbers. And he’s not a great one for the history. The defending champ might have had Jari-Matti Latvala licked on the stages, but he’s the first to admit he couldn’t hold a candle to the Finn’s ability to recall the sport’s history.
But still, he understands what a Rally Portugal win would mean this month. To him and to Markku Alén.
Ogier and Alén both stand on five wins. One of them is more likely than the other to rewrite history this month.
“Every time we are coming to Portugal, I am waiting,” Alén told DirtFish. “Will Séb do it this time? For the last years, I can breathe again: OK, record is still standing.
“Portugal is a big rally for me; lots of history and lots of memories.”
It’s the same for Ogier.
Alén won his first WRC round in Porto driving a Fiat 124 in 1975. Ogier broke his own duck aboard a Citroën C4 WRC 35 years later.
Lots of history. Lots of memories.
But for Ogier, it’s logistics rather than Alén that bring him to Europe’s far west.
I’m not so attached to numbers. Otherwise I guess I would still be in the championship trying to go for nine [world titles].Sébastien Ogier isn't interested in stat padding
“[The record] would be great,” said Toyota’s Frenchman, “but that’s not my main motivation for racing in Portugal.
“For sure, I have a special affinity with this rally; it’s where I won my first rallies. The connection I have with Portugal is really good, but when I decided to come back here, it was more because it was fitting well in the calendar this year for me, not really because I want to try and come to beat this record.
“I heard that for many years now, coming to Portugal, about trying to get this sixth win. But in the end, I’m not so attached to numbers. Otherwise I guess I would still be in the championship trying to go for nine [world titles].
“I do my best in Portugal to fight for victory. That’s definitely the plan; I will not hide and be satisfied with anything different than that.”
And Toyota team principal Latvala won’t be the only Finn watching with interest.