THE WALES RALLY GB NOTEBOOK & CITROËN SECRETS
THE WALES RALLY GB NOTEBOOK BY… SÉBASTIEN OGIER
45th Wales Rally GB (3 – 6 October 2019)– Story
In 2008, Seb and his co-driver, Julien Ingrassia made a stunning début in the top-flight category as they won the opening stage on their first competitive outing in the C4 WRC. Eleven years on, the two Frenchmen hold the record number of wins at this round, with five victories…
In order to win the opening stage and to stay in the lead until SS5, did you start the 2008 rally, your first competitive outing in a WRC, with “all guns blazing”?
Looking at it now, we were probably pushing too hard, given the conditions, because we ended up making a mistake! I didn't feel that we were pushing too hard, but at the time I had very few bearings to go on. It was the first time I had driven in a car like that. Everything went so much quicker than in a Super 1600. Clearly, I was a bit optimistic in assessing the conditions but I just didn't realise it at the time due to my lack of experience.
Plus that year, the weather was pretty extreme…
Yes, I remember there was snow and ice even… That year, we certainly had some of the toughest conditions I have ever experienced in Wales.
Is it as hard as at Monte-Carlo to read the Welsh roads and identify slight changes in grip?
Well, one thing is for sure, I don’t think it's any easier than it is at Monte. At Monte-Carlo, it’s probably easier visually to analyse and anticipate. On gravel, sometimes the changes are more subtle visually, with different shades of colour in the gravel. It’s more that experience, having completed recce, encourages you to be cautious in certain wooded sections, for example.
Does the fact that one of the stages will be held after dark add a bit of extra spice to this round?
It certainly adds another layer of difficulty to the rally. This is especially true on a gravel event, as we often end up sideways, which means the headlamps no longer light up the road. When you add fog into the mix, it can become a question of survival! It is often in these conditions where big gaps can open up between the crews. You have to stay calm and collected to avoid making any mistakes.
So you need something extra special to win this round?
I don't know. Personally speaking, it’s a rally that took me some time to work out how to manage it properly and how to be really fast here. So much so that at the beginning, it wasn't necessarily my favourite event. Over the years, I’ve learned to enjoy it more and more, probably due to the fact there are so many difficulties that you have to overcome.
“Ogier strikes straight away” (Ogier frappe d’entrée) ran the headline in the French sports daily L’Équipe on Saturday, 6 December 2008, describing Frenchman’s first day in the C4 WRC and who at the time was just a talented young driver, guided by Citroën…
Even back then, Sébastien Ogier didn’t go in for half measures: on Friday, 5 December, he had already added his name to the WRC record books in becoming – at just 24 years old – the first driver to set the fastest time on his very first stage in a WRC. The scale of the challenge ahead perhaps prevented him from going on to win the rally but Citroën nonetheless started a run of three consecutive victories in the C4 WRC (2008, 2009 and 2010) in Wales that year. As for Sébastien, he had managed brilliantly to grab the opportunity offered to him by Citroën, kick-starting a fantastic career that would see him secure six consecutive world titles and a hundred and fifty-nine further stage wins!
media.citroenracing.com Photo credit: © @World
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