Ogier: the future
Unquestionably the biggest talking point in the Rally Australia service park last weekend surrounded the future of five-time WRC champion Sébastien Ogier.
Speculation has swirled around the Frenchman for months regarding his 2018 plans. Will he stay with M-Sport World Rally Team? Will he move elsewhere? Will he retire?
Ogier’s original deadline of having his plans sorted by the end of September has long passed. He steadfastly refused to give any more clues in Coffs Harbour as the world’s media tried every which way they could to entice him into letting slip more details.
Here’s what we know:
Has Ogier decided his future?
Pretty much. All he did give away in Australia was that he had 99 per cent made his decision.
What are his options?
They are down to two. He will either stay with Malcolm Wilson’s M-Sport squad or retire.
What about returning to Citroën?
Nope. Citroën boss Yves Matton confirmed their discussions ended before Australia. Matton made a final offer to Ogier which was rejected.
So why has a deal not been done with M-Sport yet?
Money, basically. As a five-time champion, Ogier has a value for his services. Fair enough. He also wants to be convinced that M-Sport has the funding to continue developing its Ford Fiesta World Rally Car to ensure he can fight for a sixth consecutive title.
And does M-Sport have the cash?
Therein lies the problem. Wilson is exploring every possible avenue in a bid to piece together the required budget. But he has been clear he will not jeopardise his business by agreeing a deal with Ogier that M-Sport cannot afford.
Surely Ogier won’t retire?
His wife, Andrea, would like him to spend more time at home with their young son. But if he genuinely wanted to quit, why has he not already done so to spare Wilson the angst of trying to squeeze more financial support from partners.
If Ogier stays, what about co-driver Julien Ingrassia?
Plenty of people think Australia may have been the likeable Ingrassia’s WRC swansong. The two Finland accidents in testing and on the rally took a heavy toll on Ingrassia, and maybe 2017 will mark the end of a glorious career. But he’s not saying anything either.
When will we get an answer about Ogier?
We believe all will be revealed within the next seven days. But don’t hold us to that!
And that answer will be?
Mmmmmm…….. If you were to push us, we reckon Ogier will drive a Fiesta into Monaco’s Casino Square for the start of Rallye Monte-Carlo in a couple of months.
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