Volkswagen's Sebastien Ogier has said he wants to be just as dominant in 2014 and that his target 'cannot be to expect less than this year'.
Ogier has been in impervious form this season, and to date has won six of the ten events, as well as taking two seconds in Monte Carlo and Argentina.
Following his dominant performance in Australia earlier this month – he won 19 of the 22 stages – he now needs just one point to be sure of the title, while his only remaining 'threat', Thierry Neuville, needs to win all three remaining events, as well as all three Power Stages and hope Ogier scores no more points. As such his crowning on Rallye de France-Alsace is all but a formality.
So, has he thought about next season yet? “No [I haven't],” Ogier told Crash.net
at Rallyday 2013, the UK's Premier Rally Car Show. “At the moment I just want to enjoy this feeling and finish the season and just try to increase even more the amount of victories I have taken.
“Then of course I will have a new target for next year. It cannot be to expect less than this year. I will try to defend my title.”
Asked if it will be easier in 2014 once has achieved his dream of becoming champion, Ogier replied: “I think it is always hard to reach the top. But I think it is even harder to stay on top. Definitely it won't be easy. We will have to continue to work this way and keep our eyes on every detail and continue to try and improve the car.
“But for sure in this sport experience is important and year after year you normally become stronger.”
As for why Citroen have struggled in 2013, Ogier reckons the reason is pretty clear: “I think the team is still performing and strong. But maybe they miss a strong driver [Loeb] they had in the past!
“I was in this team and I still have very good contacts with them. I am sure they are still doing the same job but it looks like the drivers have had a bit of bad luck. It is not the season they expected.”
Meanwhile, Ogier attributes VW's success to a number of factors: “Last year [when we ran] with the Skoda [Fabia S2000] was important. First for myself, I had to continue to race and to stay in the championship and to continue to learn the stages. But for the team as well it was important to learn. They only had experience of the Dakar and that is quite a different sport. It was important to be there, to learn how to work and how to organise a team during a rally week,” he explained. “Also we did a lot of tests. I think the commitment of everyone was very high last year.”
“We all did our best but for sure it was a surprise to get it [a win] that quick [in only our second WRC event in Sweden]. Immediately at the beginning of the season to see that performance was great. We were a bit lucky with the reliability and we had some small issues. Of course we got the support from the VW Group as well and a good budget to do it [the WRC], but not especially better than the others.
“I am very proud of what we have done together and for me to get the victories and my first title in these conditions. If it would have happened with Citroen it would have been different. You would always have had people say, 'yeah you have done it, but you just got the car off Loeb and drove and it was easy for you'.
“But in this case I had to start from zero with them and develop everything. I am really proud of that,” he emphasised.