Paris – World Rally champion Sebastien Ogier is buzzing at the prospect of starting work at new team Citroen but insists he has no plans to stay in the sport just to pass Sebastien Loeb’s record of nine titles.
“We can’t wait to start a new chapter,” Ogier, who is moving with co-driver, told AFP on Tuesday (Nov 27). “I have the impression that the car has great capabilities. Here and there, it has shown nice turns of speed.”
6th consecutive title
The 34-year-old Frenchman tied up his sixth consecutive title when he finished fifth in the season-ending Rally of Australia earlier this month. It was his last with the M-Sport team before the move back to Citroen for the 2019 season.
Ogier has signed a two-year deal with the French team after which, he says, he will take a step back, defying his fans by ruling out a bid to beat Loeb’s record.
“This question is as big as a house, everyone is asking me,” said Ogier.
“The truth is that if I leave with eight titles, it would already be exceptional. I’m on six, so we’ll try to aim for the seventh and then we’ll see.
“Whatever happens, it’s not just the numbers in life. This is something that is often put forward but I think the most important thing is to have the feeling of leaving at the right time, to trust your feeling.
“Today, I am still enjoying it but I do not want to miss too many things at home that will be difficult to catch up.”
For Ogier, the move to Citroen, along with co-driver Julien Ingrassia, is a bit like going home, a chance to round the circle by returning to the team where he began his WRC career in 2009. And it’s not just any old team – it’s a French team.
“It’s nice to find a lot of familiar faces still here from the days when I started my WRC career. At the same time, to find a French team, it’s interesting. Trying to win with a team that is 100 percent French, that would be fantastic.”
For Ogier it is also a chance to win the title with a third team after his successes with Volkswagen (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016) and M-Sport (2017, 2018).
“This is one of the arguments that pushed us to join Citroen,” Ogier admits. “It’s rewarding to win with multiple teams, not many have managed to do it. It’s tough to adapt to a new environment, a new car, and take on the level of competition we currently have in the WRC.”
Ogier is still at the getting-to-know-you stage with Citroen. He spent one day with them discussing plans before heading off to Portugal this week to start testing the new car.
“There are still things to work on because the consistency isn’t there. If they (Citroen) have been a little behind in these last championships, it’s certainly because not everything was perfect.
“But that is also what attracts us. Trying to find new targets for Citroen and for us to try to keep adapting to a new environment is interesting and exciting.”
For Ogier, the contract with Citroen marks the beginning of the end of his dusty road in WRC.
“I see it as the last one (contract),” he says. “After that it will be time to move on. It doesn’t mean no more cars because I would be unhappy with zero motorsport in my life. On the other hand, it will be a chance to slow down.”