4 October 2013
Rallye de France: Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia - Q&A
Sebastien Ogier: It is fantastic what we have achieved..
Volkswagen's Sebastien Ogier and co-driver Julien Ingrassia reflect on the fact they are now World Champions...
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?
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
That aside: what was the strangest moment this season?
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.
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.
You have been a team for eight years now. What has been the best moment of your career so far, besides winning the title?
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.
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