With Sebastien Ogier just tying up his third consecutive World Rally Championship at Rally Australia, we reflect on the Frenchman’s career so far and his remarkable achievements alongside Volkswagen to date.
The thing is, people saw it coming. In when working his way up the World Rally Championship ladder, Sebastien Ogier was being tipped for big things. The sport needed it too. Pretender after pretender had stepped forward to try and take the crown, but seven time World Champion Sebastien Loeb was the king and no other driver really got close.
He first reached his national stage in 2005 when he won the French Federation’s Rallye Jeunes. This lead to a deal with Peugeot to drive in the Peugeot 206 Cup. In 2007 he won rookie of the year, and then in 2008 he won the Championship with four victories and two second places.
By now Ogier had more pressure on him. The national press and the international rally community had taken notice. His title to them became “The Next Loeb”, which was bother biggest compliment and at the same time a curse. In 2009 this brought him into the Junior WRC, and as far as debuts go – you can’t do better. Not only did he win the first round in Mexico, but he placed 8th overall, taking a point in the WRC standings. He went on to win the JWRC title that same season for Citroen.
2010 brought Ogier full time into the WRC with the Citroen Junior team, and 2011 brought him his first victory at Rally Portugal. Along with Dani Sordo’s disappointing performances, this was enough to get him promoted to the works team. He secured his second win of the season in Japan.
The real drama began in the 2012 season. It’s all very well being the next Sebastien Loeb… but the current Sebastien Loeb wasn’t quite done yet. What’s more, as an existing french national hero, he had supporters all around him. A tight season of competition between the two drivers came to a head in Germany, when team orders were applied early as Loeb pulled rank within the organisation whilst settling his new contract for the 2013 season. Ogier was insulted by this, and continued his rally, which he went on to win after Loeb punctured a tyre. Loeb famously won that title however it was one of his hardest earned.
This lead Ogier to be discharged from Citroen, where he had a very warm welcome from Volkswagen, re-entering the WRC in 2013. An almost “sabbatical” year in an S2000 Skoda Fabia followed in 2012 whilst the Volkswagen Polo R was being prepared.
The Polo R was hit from the start. The first outing in Monte Carlo led to a second place finish.
The rest is history. 2013 saw nine wins and eleven podiums giving him his first title, 2014 he proved again that it was no fluke, winning again with eight rally victories and ten podiums. He has now won the 2015 World Championship, winning seven rounds, and two extra podiums. Nine podiums in ten rounds surely is the mark of this mans greatness. He’s driving against some of the best drivers of this current generation, but even those in the same car as him can’t touch him.
The real question today is; how can Sebastien Ogier be the next Sebastien Loeb when he’s too busy being Sebastien Ogier?