Ogier heads into semi-retirement with eighth WRC title

Sebastien Ogier heads into semi-retirement having clinched an eighth World Rally Championship title in 9 years however with out ever fairly escaping the shadow of his former mentor Sebastien Loeb.

The 37-year-old Ogier wrapped up the title on Sunday at Monza by holding off his Toyota teammate Elfyn Evans to maneuver inside certainly one of Loeb’s report tally of 9 world championship triumphs.

Between them, the 2 Frenchmen have gained 17 of the final 18 titles however as a result of Ogier missed out in 2019, he’ll, until he modifies his thoughts, end one wanting his compatriot.

Ogier plans to race chosen rallies subsequent season whereas making an attempt different disciplines.

He has stated he desires to compete on the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the place his present employer Toyota additionally enters vehicles. Loeb completed second in that race in 2006 and has additionally completed second within the Dakar Rally.

The pair introduced a brand new method to rallying.

“They modified rallying. They introduced type! By being very exact, very direct,” stated Jari-Matti Latvala, Ogier’s boss at Toyota.

“Earlier than, drivers had been way more aggressive on the bottom. Loeb got here in and began to be a lot straighter with the automotive, with out sliding, and Ogier continued.”

Ogier grew up in Hole, within the shadow of the French Alps. As a toddler he used to marvel because the Monte Carlo Rally zoomed by way of his mountains.

His father was a gas supply driver and his mom an accountant. Ogier has a level in mechanics and contemplated turning into a ski teacher. He’s additionally French champion within the aggressive Lyon variation of boules.

He began his rally carer with Citroen.

“Ogier had the human qualities, intelligence and flexibility particularly, and a fluidity of driving that might allow him to develop into an incredible driver,” stated Olivier Quesnel, his boss at Citroen, in 2008.

Ogier gained the WRC junior championship in 2008.

“He arrived at Citroen at a really younger age and skilled with Loeb,” remembers Xavier Mestelan Pinon, technical director of Citroen Racing on the time.

“He had the expertise and potential to get to this degree, and he additionally had the possibility to be taught from the perfect. To start with, he labored onerous to ‘copy’ Sebastien.”

Actual diamond

However the two egos couldn’t slot in one storage. A conflict was inevitable. After a 2011 season wherein they each gained 5 rallies, Ogier left.

“I knew we had been letting go of an actual diamond. It was painful to let go of such a driver, who had grown up with us, however we had different initiatives with Loeb,” stated Mestelan Pinon.

Ogier joined Volkswagen and competed the next 12 months with their second-tier Skoda subsidiary.

The following season he moved up and gained the primary of 4 straight titles with Volkswagen. He then gained two with Ford. After an ill-fated return to Citroen, the place he completed third in 2019 as Estonia’s Ott Tanak broke the French reign, Ogier joined Toyota.

After successful one other title he thought of quitting on the finish of 2020, however the Covid pandemic satisfied him to increase his contract for an additional 12 months.

“Okay, Loeb has extra titles, however Ogier was in a position to win with totally different producers, totally different vehicles,” stated Latvala.

Ogier exhibits his aggressive spirit within the psychological video games he performs with opponents. He usually identified the failings of his essential rival, Belgian Thierry Neuville, runner-up in 2013, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019.

“Loeb is seen as the right son-in-law and Ogier as somebody who’s a bit hard-headed and withdrawn. Maybe a much less sympathetic picture within the eyes of the general public,” stated Mestelan Pinon.

When Ogier races subsequent 12 months, one factor can be totally different. Benjamin Veillas can be within the passenger seat. Co-driver Julien Ingrassia, who first teamed up with Ogier in 2005, is retiring after this season.

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