14 Oct 08
With rounds in Mexico, Jordan, Italy, Finland, Germany, Spain and France, the Junior World Rally Championship (J-WRC) is viewed as the breeding ground of future World Rally Championship contenders.
And following a remarkable debut J-WRC season, Frenchman Sebastien Ogier’s second place on the final round of the season in Corsica has earned the French youngster a double trophy scoop.
With J-WRC victories in three continents this year, the 24-year old clinched the J-WRC title at the first attempt and also collected the Abu Dhabi ‘Spirit of the Rally’ award.
The ‘Spirit of the Rally’ award recognises parties demonstrating the same values that the capital of the United Arab Emirates stands for; respect, innovation, integrity and teamwork. It is also designed to acknowledge a positive contribution to the WRC by any of the myriad of parties involved in the sport, including the drivers who will one day compete at the sport’s highest level.
"I’m very happy about winning this award. It has completed my Junior World Rally Championship title which I won in Corsica, which is a great satisfaction to me,” said Ogier.
“It’s always flattering to enjoy the recognition of both the public and the sponsors - like Abu Dhabi. This prize recognises a whole year of work by PH Sport team which runs my car, Citroen, the FFSA - who have supported me - and of course, my co-driver Julien Ingrassia, who is the first to share this prize with me,” he added.
Ogier had the opportunity to wrap-up the J-WRC crown in Rally de Espana a week ago, but a mistake in the final 17.12 kilometre La Llena stage - where he hit a bank in the final stage and damaged his radiator - ensured an exciting finale to the championship.
“Junior, or grass roots, elements are essential to the long-term growth and development of any sport, and the J-WRC is no different,” said Ahmed Hussein, Deputy Director General of the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority.
“Abu Dhabi has rolled out a Junior Driver Development Programme for this very reason. We are determined to unearth and nurture the next generation of young rally heroes from the emirate. It is the Emirati youth who will continue globally spreading the UAE capital’s name in the world’s most dramatic form of motor-sport.
“And I’m sure one day our young drivers will find themselves driving against the formidable class of Sebastien - he could be the next Loeb. I congratulate him on a highly memorable first year as a full-time J-WRC driver and look forward to seeing him compete for many more years to come,” added Hussein.