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SΓ©bastien Ogier: PH Meets

On the eve of Rally GB, we tracked down the five-time world champion for a natter about all things Ogier

By Sam Sheehan / Friday, October 05, 2018

There's a lot of repetition in the questions directed at Sébastien Ogier ahead of Wales Rally GB. In the Deeside service park, the reigning champ has to explain why he's still in the title hunt, despite being third in the standings behind Hyundai's Thierry Neuville and Toyota's Ott Tanak with just three rounds to go. He has to maintain that knowing this will not prevent him from getting the job done here. And he has to justify his just-announced decision to depart M-Sport, the team he won the 2017 title with, for the Citroën factory team in 2019. This is a five-time champ, of course, so he's handling the onslaught well - but Ogier is a rally driver; you can see he just wants to get in the car and crack on.

We'd like to think his conversation with PH is less fraught. We don't want sound bites, just to get to know a motorsport legend who's so good at flinging a rally car around on the mucky stuff that he hasn't let anyone else win a title since 2013. So, having scoffed down a pot of miniature fish and chips under M-Sport catering's awning, we had a quick chat with the man himself on the eve of him getting on with his day job.

As a man who's been a fan all his life, if you could drive in any rally period, which would you choose?

"I think we are lucky to live in a very exciting period of rallying now. It's definitely the fastest rally car ever produced and in the same time, also the safest. When you see the footage from the '80s, there were these crazy, mad Group B cars, which I want to try one day - I'd love goes in an Audi Quattro, Lancia Delta Peugeot 205 - but in our day, the cars are pretty special. I've been in the championship for 10 years, and I have to say that this generation of car is very exciting to drive."

Over 10 years [and 134 rallies!] you've had many memorable moments. Does one stand out?

"It's hard to really pick one; can you imagine how many stages I have driven in my career? But we often mention Finland and this Ouninpohja stage, which is really magic with so many jumps. This one, when you have the feeling of having really mastered it, it is the best feeling. But for me, I often have a very high emotion in Monte Carlo, because it's my home rally, it's my heart rally. I have some memories of this rally back in 2012 where I was driving a small Skoda S2000, preparing the future with Volkswagen, and was sitting P4 overall with a car from the second class. This was very special."

What about surfaces - is a particular type your favourite?

"In truth, what I like about most in this championship, is that we have the chance to drive on all surfaces. In these cars I particularly love tarmac and I've always been strong on tarmac. But for me, the cars are more efficient and show more of their potential on gravel or snow, because of the latest four wheel drive and this crazy suspension we have, they are super efficient in these conditions. Driving on snow is a unique feeling; with the big studs on the tyres you can reach a very, very high speed. In terms of pleasure, it's one of the most enjoyable feelings you can have on a stage."

Looking to the future, what are your opinions of rallying going electric?

"I think we need to try to have a kind of hybrid system, to make sure we are part of the movement to reduce emissions and follow the automotive industry for sure. But I am not convinced that fully electric is the future, it's hard to produce and it's hard to recycle. But for sure I think we need to start thinking about the environment and I would be happy to support projects to produce a car that's more efficient. I believe motorsport should always be a place where you test the future of cars."

And your future - have you already begun thinking about options beyond WRC?

"I recently had a go in the DTM, it was a great offer. I loved it, so why not, that could be something to attract me in the future. At the moment I think I would try a bit in circuit racing."

What about 'doing a Loeb' and trying World Rallycross and Pikes Peak?

"I would never say never, but at the moment I am not so attracted to circuit racing. But let's not forget I've just signed a new two-year contract in rallying, so I'll rethink my situation in two years and will look at what excites me most. One thing's for sure, I will need to have a steering wheel in my hands to have some fun for a very long time."

On the subject of steering wheels...what cars do you drive on the road?

"When I won my first title, I bought a Ferrari 458 Speciale. I still have it today but I don't use it so often because I have a son and a dog; they don't fit in this car. For sure I want to keep the Ferrari forever because I have this memory of my first world title. The other car I have is a Porsche GT3 RS. But the truth is I drive that also not very often. I drive a Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo as my regular car, it's a hybrid! I really like the Sport Turismo; the normal Panamera is nice but this one's design is really cool. I also really like that it's a hybrid because I can drive electric in the city."

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