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20 minutes with Sebastien Ogier

4 April 2013

Following his win in Mexico, Crash.net caught up with Sebastien Ogier to hear his thoughts on life with Volkswagen, leading the World Rally Championship and his feelings about the past and the future....


On life at Volkswagen and the start to 2013...

Crash.net:
After a second place in Monte Carlo and back to back wins in Sweden and Mexico, did you expect such a strong start to 2013?

Sebastien Ogier:
No, I didn't expect this at all, I mean second place in Monte and the two wins was a real surprise. I was always confident in the Polo R WRC, but didn't know where we were [relative to our competitors] before the season started.

Crash.net:
You are quickly being considered the favourite for the 2013 title. How do you feel about this tag?

Sebastien Ogier:
We're not really in a position to say yet, but it's nice. However, we have to remember that the championship is long, we've just done three rounds and there is a long way to go. But I will say that the podiums and the win have made our life easier, that's for sure.

Crash.net:
What is the secret to yours and VW's successful start to the season, and do you think the VW/Ogier combination can become one of those iconic partnerships in rallying history?

Sebastien Ogier:
Well, having good feelings in the team, how the team operates and having a good car. I hope it can be one of these partnerships as it would be really nice. We'll see. I hope so, anyway.

On the last year in S2000...

Crash.net:
Does the success you have had so far in 2013 make up for having to use the VW-run Skoda S2000 in 2012?

Sebastien Ogier:
Yes, but 2012 was also very useful in getting used to the team and it was better than sitting at home doing nothing! For sure it was frustrating to not be in a WRC car, but it was good to get to know the team, and also for the team in its operation. No, I don't regret it as I learnt a lot, and joining VW was the best decision I made.

Crash.net:
Did you learn anything or was it a 'wasted year'?

Sebastien Ogier:
No, it was really useful in helping the team work together and for me to get used to the them. Still, it was frustrating as I really wanted to get back into a WRC car as I knew what I could do...

On the opposition...

Crash.net:
You praised Mads Ostberg for his performances in Sweden and Mexico; do you see him as a key player in the title battle?

Sebastien Ogier:
He was very strong in Sweden and also very strong in Mexico until his problem. Sebastien Loeb would have been there too for sure, but he is only doing four events and has done two already, so Mads is in a very strong position.

Crash.net:
Who do you think is VW's main rival in the manufacturer's battle?

Sebastien Ogier:
For sure it is Citroen as they have two consistent drivers in Mikko and Dani. Mikko is very consistent, but as I said, the championship is long, there's a way to go as we've done just three rounds. We'll see what happens when we move to the tarmac rounds of the championship.

On working with Jari-Matti Latvala...

Crash.net:
What is it like working with Jari-Matti Latvala?

Sebastien Ogier:
Sure, he's a nice guy, he's fast and we come from different teams so it's a good feeling with him. We get on well.

Crash.net:
Why do you think he is struggling to match your pace?

Sebastien Ogier:
Well, I think it's about time in the car. I had a year [to get used to it] and he had a much shorter time (a few weeks) to get used to it. But for sure, he was competitive in Sweden and Mexico, but he also has been unlucky…

Views on Citroen...

Crash.net:
How does the Polo R WRC compare to the Citroen DS3 WRC you drove in 2011?

Sebastien Ogier:
Well, both are very good car and my memories of driving the DS3 WRC tell me it was also very good, so I don't expect it has changed much but really I don't know. The Polo R WRC is also excellent as you can see from two back-to-back wins and a second place. It's very easy to drive and has a good engine. However, before the season started I had many questions as I did not know where we were compared to our rivals. When I first drove the Polo R WRC at its first test in 2012, it was not very nice to drive, but we developed it well last year and now we're here leading the driver's championship.

Crash.net:
Do you attribute your success at VW not only to your speed, but also due to the less politicized atmosphere you experienced at Citroen?

Sebastien Ogier:
[Laughs] Yeah, definitely! I mean it's not a secret that when I left Citroen, the political situation between me and the team was not so good; maybe this affected my mind and during rallies a little as it would anybody and any sportsman. However, I won my first rally with them in 2010 with the C4, so I have some good memories with them. Instead of the bad things that happened, I prefer to focus on the good things and feelings from that time. I mean without Citroen, I wouldn't be at VW today, so I have to thank them for that.

Crash.net:
What do you think of Citroen's recent struggles?

Sebastien Ogier:
Well, I don't think they're struggling to be honest. I mean Seb (Loeb) won in Monte Carlo, then he was competitive again in Sweden. Mikko also wasn't too bad in Mexico as he won a few stages. No, I don't think they're struggling really.

Looking ahead to Portugal...

Crash.net:
We saw the Polo R WRC is competitive on gravel last time in Mexico, what do you expect from Portugal?

Sebastien Ogier:
Well, we saw that we were competitive last time out, but we still need to work for sure as we are a new team and a new car. We need to focus a little on the stability of the car as the majority of the events are on gravel.

Crash.net:
What is Portugal like as an event?

Sebastien Ogier:
It's one of my favourite types of rally! Lots of fast flowing roads! I've won the event twice; my first rally in 2010 with Citroen and again in 2011 with them. Hopefully I can do it again, but when it rains, it's really slippery and it's really tough! I really hope it stays dry!

Crash.net:
Are you fully prepared for any gate-based or podium mishaps?

Sebastien Ogier:
Yeah! I think I am actually! That's never happened to me before, so it was quite a surprise [when we got to the closed gate]. I tried to push it with the car but we could only pull it, so Julien got out, pulled it and we were through. I knew we would get the time back as it was a circumstance that we could not control. It was not a big problem in the end. But seriously, whilst it was funny then, I hope it doesn't happen again as what would happen if it were on a fast and wide stretch of road? The organizers should have really spotted it.

On his targets for the rest of the season...

Crash.net:
What are your goals and targets for the rest of the season?

Sebastien Ogier:
As I said, the two wins have made life easier for us but the season is long! Hopefully I can win a lot of rallies and the championship with VW some day, but we'll see.

Views on Sebastien Loeb...

Crash.net:
How much do the comparisons with Sébastien Loeb annoy you and how much has the media stirred the rivalry?

Sebastien Ogier:
Well it doesn't annoy me so much, but it's just boring, you know? After every rally, I get asked the same questions about it. It's a big compliment as Seb is the most successful driver in history of rallying, but I think it's important to remember that we are from different generations and he is only doing a few rallies this year so you can't really compare. Maybe if we get some more wins, then people will stop asking these questions over time, But I am Sébastien Ogier and he is Sébastien Loeb. The media definitely caused the 'situation' between us, because whilst we were rivals at Citroen, I have no problem with him and he has no problem with me, you saw that in Sweden. It was definitely their creation.


by George East


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