06 Mar 08
The winner of Rally Mexico’s Junior contest, Sebastien Ogier, says he modelled his driving style on that of his mentor Sebastien Loeb.
The 24-year-old Frenchman finished a minute and a half ahead of the next J-WRC competitor and came ninth overall on Rally Mexico, which was his first ever WRC event.
“From when I started rallying I have been watching on-boards from Seb [Loeb] and I’ve developed a note system that is very similar and it seems to be working very well,” said Ogier. “But this is the longest rally we have ever done so it’s a lot harder than we have experienced before. Now is the hardest bit - to stay in first place.”
Despite having only tested his Citroen C2 Super 1600 for two days ahead of the J-WRC opener, Ogier had a largely trouble free rally, his worst problem being a puncture on the first day after he hit a stone and bent the steering of his Citroen.
Tipped as one of the future stars of the WRC, Ogier will contest the six-round 2008 J-WRC series with support from Citroen Sport and the French national motorsport federation - the FFSA.
The talent scouts at the FFSA have a good reputation for backing winners. One of their previous successes was Sebastien Loeb who made his WRC class debut on Rally Corsica 2000 in an FFSA backed Toyota Corolla. “We have quite a lot in common, not just a name,” said Loeb. “He also comes from a family that has no background in rallying and is not particularly rich. We’ve both been backed by the FFSA and we are both mechanics by trade. It would be impossible for him to have done better than he did in Mexico.”
The FFSA has set Ogier the target of winning the J-WRC title in his first year, and if that happens then he could make the step up to a World Rally Car as early as next season. “The [FFSA] programme is only long-term if I do well,” said Ogier. “I think it is possible for me to win the title this year, but I still have a lot to learn. Luckily I have the advice of Seb who is like a mentor for me.”
Ogier’s next event is the Jordan Rally which starts on 24 April.