Volkswagen's Sebastien Ogier has said he is 'absolutely overjoyed' to have clinched the 2013 World Rally Drivers' title.
Coming into the last event but two, Ogier had won six of the ten rallies so far in the Polo R WRC's debut season, and the result of the opening Power Stage
on Rallye de France on Thursday in front of the European Parliament in Strasbourg means he can no longer be caught at the top of the table.
Although his crowning was pretty much a formality after his victory in Australia last month, the Frenchman added that it was still an 'immense relief' to know it was now a mathematical certainty.
“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,” he said after SS1.
“For the last few days I have been trying not to think too much about it, in order to avoid making any mistakes. The relief now is immense.
“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 [Ingrassia – my co-driver] and I are World Rally Champions. It is crazy.
“However, I am also well aware that rallying is a team sport. This success would never have been possible without our fantastic team at Volkswagen. Whether trucker, mechanic or race engineer, I have to thank everyone.
“One thing is for sure – we will celebrate in style now!”
Ingrassia was equally over-the-moon as he also secured the Co-Drivers' crown: “It is possibly the best day of my life – and definitely of my career! If anyone had told me at the start of the year that Seb and I would already be World Champions with so much of the season still to go, I would immediately have told them they are mad. We were so close in Australia three weeks ago, but now the title win is a reality.”
Volkswagen motorsport director Jost Capito added: “Sebastien and Julien have spent almost two years with Volkswagen working very hard for this success. They took a step back last year, and have subsequently performed fantastically at this season's rallies. They fully deserve to be the new World Champions.
“At the same time, this is also the greatest sporting success in the history of Volkswagen Motorsport. Our team succeeded at the first attempt in developing a winning car – the Polo R WRC – and defeating opposition with far greater experience.”