When Volkswagen Motorsport announced its decision to withdraw from the World Rally Championship in November, a scramble began for the services of Sebastien Ogier. The Frenchman had dominated the sport over the past four years, winning 22 out of 54 WRC events over that span while racking up four straight championship titles. The winner of that contest was M-Sport Ford, which will have Ogier in one of its all-new Fiestas (below, image courtesy of M-Sport) for the new season that starts Jan. 20 in Monte Carlo.
With what the 33-year-old has already achieved, he says he is not feeling any undue pressure to carry on the same level of domination with his new team.
“I have achieved a lot these last years but feel I am in a position that I have nothing to lose,” he said. “I have nothing to prove anymore.”
Only Sebastien Loeb boasts more championship and event wins – nine and 78, respectively, to Ogier’s tally of four and 38.
Still, Ogier is not about to rest on his laurels for the upcoming season with the Malcolm Wilson-headed M-Sport organization.
“I will try my best and it is definitely a good challenge to try to bring this team back to success after many years of struggle,” said Ogier. He noted, though, that his time behind the cockpit before his home event has been very limited.
“I had two days already this week in Sweden for the first test. I will have another test in January before the rally which is normally two days so it will not be much time in this car so hopefully the feeling comes very quickly. But that is why I said we have a big challenge in front of us and it is a bit early to know what we will be able to achieve.”
There have been major changes in and out of the car in recent months having become a father to a son, Tim, for the first time six months ago. While he is adamant the drive to succeed has not left him in parenthood, the priorities have shifted.
“It has made it more difficult to leave home. To become a father changed my life for sure. It makes me think a bit differently and have a different perspective about life for sure.
“There were many years when I was completely focused on racing and of course now I continue to do it professionally and give my best but I want to give some time and enjoy time with my family. I want to be a good dad, that is one of my targets now.
“It has become harder to leave and it will get even worse and worse when he grows up and starts to talk. I’m sure his mum will teach him his first sentence to be, ‘Dad, stay home’! We have had so many good times already this year and I could not be more happy at the moment.”
Ogier notes that in some ways, all the changes are refreshing but, he adds: “I hate to lose and, when I take part in a competition, I always give me best. I never give anything half-hearted. If I do it, I do it 100%. Of course, it is a nice feeling to win.
“I had the chance to be a part of a fantastic team the last four years and we were successful together. At the end, it almost became normal to win but it never came easy.”
Nine seasons have passed since Ogier first lined up in the WRC with an eighth-place finish in Mexico driving a Citroen C2 S1600, but this season marked the 10-year anniversary since his breakthrough in the Peugeot 206 Cup.
“For sure it has gone quickly you always look forward in life and sometimes it is nice to look back on what you have done,” he says. “Over the 10 years, I have been flying, but in the same time we achieved much more than I was hoping for 10 years ago.
“When I started I was hoping to reach the WRC and the ultimate dream was to be world champion and we achieved that and even more as now we are four-time world champions so it has been a fantastic adventure over those 10 years and it is not over. Let’s see what the future brings now.”