17 Oct 08
At the start of the 2008 WRC season Olivier Quesnel, 57, took over from Guy Frequelin as Citroen Total team principal. Which, as tasks go, was definitely one of the 'easier said than done' variety.
Taking the baton from the man who had masterminded Citroen's entry into the sport and delivered 42 WRC victories in eight years was a job that carried a huge amount of pressure and responsibility.
Understandably in Monte Carlo WRC observers were keen to see if Quesnel could keep up the team's winning ways. Victory there for Sebastien Loeb was a good start. Nine months later, after the Tour de Corse, Quesnel's team celebrated Sebastien Loeb's tenth win of the season. Going on current form it looks like Quesnel has a firm grip on the winning formula.
But while the results have kept coming this year they have arrived in a different way under Quesnel's leadership. Although involved in the motor racing industry since the mid 1960s, Quesnel's management style owes more to the worlds of team management and entrepreneurship than Frequelin's which had evolved largely through his experiences as a WRC driver.
Quesnel has some racing experience, but by far the biggest chunk of his career to date has been spent in the media, in particular the French magazine publishers Groupe de Presse Michel Hommell which Quesnel was managing director of for 23 years.
And while Frequelin was typically to be found out on the stages with a stopwatch, Quesnel prefers to keep an eye on things from the red Citroen Sport trailer in the service park. After Loeb's recent win in Corsica, we caught up with Olivier to ask him about his management philosophy, how he runs the team and why everything still works so well:
Olivier Quesnel quick CV:
1966 - 1968: Servicing coordination for an amateur driver competing in the French Rally Championship.
1972: Enters the Elf find-a-driver scheme - qualifies for the semi-finals. Is Patrick Tambay's manager until the latter's debut in Formula 1 with Ferrari.
1978 - 1980: President of Simca Racing Team, the operation in charge of the marque's single make championships and competitions. Organisation of rally championships, African rally-raids (Tour Mediterranee, Paris-Dakar) and circuit races.
1980 - 1984: Founds Peugeot Talbot Sport with Jean Todt. World Rally Champions in 1985 and 1986.
1982: Founded Sotiden, a company specialising in the marketing of car care products under the Metal 5 brand. Company sold in 1999.
From 1984: Managing Director of French magazine publishers Groupe de Presse Michel Hommell, specialising in automobile, cycling, music and television titles.
1993 - 2003: Founded Automobiles Michel Hommell which produced 300 Hommell Berlinettes sports cars.
Ten wins from 13 rallies; you must be pleased with your progress so far?
Of course I am pleased but if you look at the way the championship has developed it took us quite a while to be leading. The consistency pays off with this scoring system and you might not need to be winning every event to become world champion. But it's an exciting championship as it's a close fight.