Becoming World Rally Champion is nothing new for Sebastien Ogier, who clinched his fifth drivers’ title with a third-place finish in the Wales Rally GB at the weekend. But in contrast to his first four championships, this one was achieved in a privateer entry as the Frenchman, along with longtime co-driver Julien Ingrassia (pictured at left, with Ogier), drove an M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC to the title, defeating the factory efforts of Citroen, Hyundai and Toyota. Ogier admitted he found that accomplishment was uniquely satisfying.
“This is the strongest emotion I have had in a rally. Not in my life – when my son was born it was even more special. But today… It’s hard to explain. I don’t know why I felt like this, but it was really, really good what we did. I felt very proud and happy for the whole team. Malcolm [Wilson, M-Sport owner] and all his guys never had this happen to them before, but it’s well deserved what the team achieved. And to do it with a smaller budget than the manufacturers, it’s amazing.
All the more amazing, Ogier, believes, because of the level of competition this season.
“I can easily say this has been the most competitive WRC season I ever drove and this is the case for the championship in general – it’s been really good for the sport,” he declared. “It was good to see so many different winners and to have every team winning a minimum of two races. It’s been good to be part of this and with the new car, it was also the most fun with the fastest WRC car ever.”
Ogier, who signed a one-year deal with M-Sport after finding himself on the sidelines following the surprise withdrawal of VW’s factory team at the end of last season, said he hadn’t yet decided what to do next year. Although the Frenchman says his competitive fire hasn’t dimmed, he hinted that retirement was on his mind.
“This sport still gives me strong emotion. Right now I have no announcement, maybe soon. I’m not 100 percent sure; I’m still thinking and still analyzing,” he said. “There is one offer from my wife and she’s pushing pretty hard to keep me home, but I know I still need some adrenaline, let’s see.”
For team boss Wilson, sweeping the drivers’ and manufacturers’ titles as a privateer team, while also winning the rally with local favorite Elfyn Evans, was an especially fulfilling accomplishment.
“It is emotional. There have been a few tears today at various points,” he admitted. “When Ott [Tanak] crossed the line it was the manufacturers’, then Sebastien for the drivers’ title, then Elfyn won the home Wales Rally GB, it was the triple crown I think.
“I really want to take this opportunity to thank Sebastien and Julien. This was exactly what we needed. I can’t tell you what a difference it’s made. The commitment and dedication it’s brought is just incredible. It’s easy to see why he’s a five-time world champion. And it’s great what he brought to Elfyn and to Ott – they learned they don’t need to be fastest on every stage. We’ve all benefited, so it’s a big thank you from me.
“When we started this year, with these new cars, I really felt reliability would be key and, touch wood, that’s gone well for us. We have been on the podium on every rally and we’re the only manufacturer to have all three drivers win an event. I’m extremely proud of what we’ve achieved in beautiful Cumbria.”