‘Le Petit Bug’ first competed back in 1984 but joined Citroen full time in 1998, making his debut in the all-conquering Formula 2 Xsara Kit Car in Spain: the first of three asphalt rallies that he would contest with the squad that year.
The undisputed high point of his career came a year later, when he won in both Catalunya and Corsica in the car, co-driven by Jean-Paul Chiaroni. It was a performance so dominant on both occasions that the sport’s top stars at the time called for the car to be handicapped on WRC events. He could have added a Sanremo victory to that total had not conditions been wet on the second day, robbing the two-wheel drive Xsara of vital traction and dropping him to 11th.
The final day was dry, and Bugalski crashed out after a spectacular, all-or-nothing charge through the field that was breathtaking to watch. At the same time, he wrapped up three consecutive French titles from 1998 to 2000, first with the F2 Xsara: his favourite rally car, then with the Xsara T4.
In 2000 he also alternated occasional world championship outings in a Citroen Saxo alongside a testing campaign with the Citroen Xsara T4, which would eventually become the Citroen Xsara World Rally Car once the PSA Group gave the green light for Citroen to go head-to-head against stablemate Peugeot. His debut in the car came in Spain in 2001, where he finished eighth, but the best result of his first Xsara WRC season came on the rough gravel of the Acropolis - by no means his favourite surface - where he finished sixth.
In 2002, once the Xsara WRC really hit its stride, he was back on the podium with third in Catalunya: the same rally where he ended his distinguished career a year later at the age of 40.
Latterly, he devoted his time to historic rallies - where he competed in cars such as the iconic Audi Quattro - and the well-known Automeca team. He is survived by his wife and two daughters.
It’s an overused phrase but Bugalski was a true gentleman, with a warmth and personality that far exceeded his diminutive stature. He was driven by a passion for rallying that led him to always help youngsters coming up through the sport, with Citroen regarding him as not just a valued test driver, but a true brand ambassador.