Sébastien Ogier expects Toyota, which includes Flying Finns Esapekka Lappi and Jari-Matti Latvala in its line-up, to win Neste Rally Finland.
Ogier believes the pace of the Yaris WRC will make Toyota the “benchmark” on the high-speed gravel stages due, in part, to the squad’s extensive testing on the Finnish roads.
“It’s fair to say Toyota should be the benchmark here,” Ogier said. “We’ve seen last year on the fast stages they are strong. They’ve obviously been testing much more than anybody else here. I’ve also heard they were testing last year [on] some of the new sections we will do this year. For sure that helps but it's my goal to try to fight with them. Let’s see what’s possible.”
As well as the Toyota-powered Finns, Ogier expects his M-Sport team-mate Teemu Suninen to be in the thick of the battle.
“It’s one year since he’s been in a World Rally Car and he starts to have a good experience with this kind of car,” said Ogier. “Already last year he was fast here, he will have a perfect start position and if he doesn’t do any mistakes you can count on him to fight not too far from the front.”
While Ogier acknowledges Toyota’s winning threat, his main focus remains on Thierry Neuville, who he trails in the FIA World Rally Championship standings by 27 points starting Neste Rally Finland.
“Of course the most important is to beat Thierry, that’s priority number one but I’m targeting a good result and the only good result will to be in the top three.
“It’s going to be a tough weekend. It’s very dry conditions, the cleaning effect will be there so let’s see what we can do from second on the road. I’m targeting a good result and the only good result will to be in the top three.”
This year’s Rally Finland begins with the 2.31-kilometre Harju street stage in Jyväskylä from 19:00 local time.