Volkswagen's Sebastien Ogier and co-driver Julien Ingrassia reflect on the fact they are now World Champions...

Q:
Sebastien, Julien, you are World Rally Champions for the first time - and in your debut year with the Polo R WRC. What does this success mean to you?

Sebastien Ogier:
I am absolutely overjoyed! I could give everyone in the world a big hug. The feeling is impossible to describe. To have won the World Championship title in France is an absolute dream come true. As a little boy, I used to marvel at the cars and top drivers at the Rally Monte Carlo with my father in my home town of Gap - and now Julien and I are World Rally Champions. It is crazy. It is fantastic what we have achieved. Were we now to go on and win the manufacturers' championship too, it would definitely have been a magical and perfect season.

Julien Ingrassia:
It is possibly the best day of my life - and definitely of my career! If anyone had told me at the start of the season that Seb and I would already be World Champions with two rounds to go, I would immediately have told them they are mad. We were so close in Australia, but now the title win is a reality.

Q:
Speaking of Australia: you looked odds on to be crowned World Champions until just a few metres before the finish. How did it feel to have dominated the rally and the Power Stage, and then to suddenly be denied the World Championship title?

Sebastien Ogier:
It was definitely a strange feeling. We had won, but missed out on securing the World Championship by just one point. Despite this, it was a great rally, both for Volkswagen and for Julien and me. As such, it was soon clear to us that we were only a step away - we had done 99 per cent of the job.

Julien Ingrassia:
It was a very bizarre radio message at the end of the final special stage: 'Congratulations guys, you have won the rally. However, you'll have to wait for the Championship.' We were actually 'virtual' champions all weekend - and then that. However, it is not every day that you win 19 of 22 special stages in the World Rally Championship. As such, our emotion was soon one of joy again.

Q:
That aside: what was the strangest moment this season?

Julien Ingrassia:
Definitely the cattle gate in Mexico. Fortunately we still went on to win the rally, and were able to laugh about it later - particularly when we wanted to go back to the Service Park after the finish, and the team had shut off the way into our space.

Sebastien Ogier:
Oh yes! Nothing like that has ever happened to me before. It was quite a shock when we suddenly found ourselves faced with a closed gate. I tried to push it open with the car, but you could only open it by pulling. So Julien jumped out of the car, opened the gate and away we went. I knew they would give us back any lost time, as the incident was completely out of our control. As it turned out, it was not a major problem.

Q:
You have been a team for eight years now. What has been the best moment of your career so far, besides winning the title?

Sebastien Ogier:
My win in Sweden this year. That was simply a perfect rally and the first win with Volkswagen. We had a fantastic duel with Sebastien Loeb, who really put us under pressure, meaning we had to be flat out at all times. And my maiden win in Portugal in 2010 will always have a special place in my heart.

Julien Ingrassia:
This year it was definitely the victory in Sweden. It is not easy to win there anyway, but that was really special. And we were probably under more pressure than at any other time in our careers in Monte Carlo.

Q:
And what would you rather forget?

Sebastien Ogier:
The worst moment was my crash at the 2012 Rally Monte Carlo. When you lose control of the car at 160 km/h and shoot off towards the trees, all you can do is hope for the best. I never need that again.

Q:
When did you meet each other for the first time?

Sebastien Ogier:
It must have been just after the Rally Jeunes at the end of 2005, right? Julien was there watching, probably to see whether there were any particularly quick drivers there. I won the competition in the end, beating several thousand others. That tipped the scales for him.

Julien Ingrassia:
Being the fastest certainly was not a problem (laughs). Back then I already had a couple of years' experience as a co-driver. Seb stood out from the crowd, not only from a driving point of view, but also because of his willpower. The winner received a place in the Peugeot 206 Cup, so I asked there and then whether I could be Seb's co-driver. We got on well from the word go and decided to give it a go together.

Q:
Sounds a bit like love at first sight?

Sebastien Ogier:
(laughs) No, it wasn't that bad. Seriously though, we are two different characters. I am perhaps a bit more emotional and temperamental in the cockpit. Now and then Julien brings me back down to earth with his calm manner. We complement each other and are on the same wavelength.

Julien Ingrassia:
Seb is definitely more temperamental when it comes to celebrating, but he is usually relaxed and cool in the car. He has the ability to block out everything around him and just focus on driving and listening to the pace notes. That is one of his strengths that I admire and that is definitely key to our success.

Sebastien Ogier:
Thanks for the compliment, but even the best rally driver is nothing without a good co-driver. Julien and I have a telepathic understanding. We could probably drive using sign language. However, Julien's organisational skills are almost as important as good pace notes. He sticks meticulously to the schedule on every rally weekend. He knows when we have to set off in the morning, when we need to be at PR appointments, and when the team briefing is scheduled for. To be honest, I am sometimes a bit slack with that kind of thing.

Q:
What is your favourite special stage in the WRC, and why?

Sebastien Ogier:
Tricky question, as there are so many nice special stages. On asphalt 'Moulinet' at the Rally Monte Carlo, and definitely 'Ouninpohja' in Finland on gravel. It is extremely quick with so many jumps that it is just great fun to drive.

Q:
What do you do in the final 30 seconds before a stage?

Sebastien Ogier:
I check my safety harness and leave the door open for as long as possible, in order to get some fresh air. Otherwise it is all about concentration. Julien and I usually never speak to each other in the last few seconds before the start. We both know what we have to do.

Julien Ingrassia:
Not a lot happens at that point. We both focus, close the doors, and then I start the countdown from 15 seconds.

Q:
Apart from your co-driver, who is the most important member of the team, and why?

Sebastien Ogier:
Rallying is a team sport. Everyone is important, from chef to mechanic. For me, however, it is particularly important to have FX Demaison in the team. He is the father of the Polo R WRC - and he is a Frenchman. Sometimes it is just nice to speak a bit of French with him.

Julien Ingrassia:
Everyone is important. If a mechanic makes a mistake, then we end up flying off the road. If an engineer does something wrong when developing the car, we feel it the following year.

Q:
Are you superstitious? If yes, do you take a lucky mascot into the car with you?

Julien Ingrassia:
No, not at all actually.

Sebastien Ogier:
Definitely not. I have nothing in the car that I don't need. That would just be unnecessary weight.

Interview kindly supplied by Volkswagen Motorsport