Volkswahen's Sebastien Ogier has dedicated his victory on Wales Rally GB to the victims of the terror attacks in Paris.
Ogier led the final round of the 2015 World Rally Championship from start-to-finish and at the end, the Frenchman and co-driver Julien Ingrassia unfurled a Tricolore flag and draped it over the bonnet of their Polo R WRC as a mark of respect for those that lost their lives. The podium ceremony was also marked by a minute's silence.
“It's been a very difficult weekend with the events elsewhere,” Ogier said. “Mentally, it wasn't easy to continue after what happened on Friday in France, but in these situations, you have to carry on even stronger than before and remain united.
“Now is not the time to celebrate and it's not easy for me to find the right words to say at the moment, but as a small sign of support, I want to dedicate this victory to the memory of all those who lost their lives and everybody else affected by these tragic events.”
“For us personally, this [win] is also a symbolic gesture that we must not give up or give in to a small minority,” he added.
“I think this sentiment has been expressed by the entire WRC family.”
Asked how he feels about the win, his eighth of the season, Ogier added: “I feel strange I will say. It starts to be difficult to repeat it all the time – nobody likes to speak about that, but when you have that in mind, the atrocities in Paris, it's difficult to get it out of your mind.”
“I will try to speak more about the race. It's been a very challenging weekend, a proper Rally GB with a lot of rain and mud, but it's been a great race,” he continued.
“I'm really happy sportingly. I might not show so much happiness now, but of course I'm happy to end the season like this. Eight wins and my third win in a row here, the statistics are pretty good.
“I want to thank the Volkswagen team who made it possible for us to achieve all of this. I said I wanted the perfect season and I almost did it except for one a mistake in Spain. But my co-driver did make the perfect season without any mistakes, so well done Julien [Ingrassia].”
Meanwhile, Ogier rejected the notion it was the most challenging Rally GB for him, at least in terms of the weather conditions.
“I don't think so, no. I have been through worse, especially here – remember my first time in 2008? That was really terrible, much worse than this year,” he replied. “There was ice and snow and we were driving on gravel tyres. It was very difficult to stay on the road at the time and I didn't stay on the road!
“Here we had a lot of rain, but when it rains like that, somehow the grip is better – it washes away the mud. But at the same time there are more water splashes and more grip changes. When it is not raining, it's slippery all the time, but this time it was good grip, then mud, then no grip. It was quite challenging. I'm very happy to make no mistakes [here], and make a fantastic season.
"It's going to be difficult to beat this in the future. The opposition will not relax over the winter: our rivals are sure to push hard to close the gap.”