Friday | 26 Nov 2021

Emotional farewell from a retiring WRC great

Julien Ingrassia has reflected on the wave of emotion that overcame him as he celebrated an eighth FIA World Rally Championship with Sébastien Ogier last weekend.

The French duo donned specially-liveried helmets as they hugged on the roof of their Toyota Yaris World Rally Car after winning FORUM8 ACI Rally Monza to secure the crown.

For Ogier, it marked the end of his full-time WRC career. For Ingrassia it was the moment his co-driving career came to a close as he leaves Ogier’s side for retirement.

“Maybe you have seen on the final stage, once we passed the finish line, I could not keep the tears out of my eyes,” he admitted. “I was so happy to be with Seb and say ‘wow all those 15 years we have been spending in a human lifetime, this is just crazy’.

“This is just pure joy and I wanted to finish my career with this joy and these emotions. We did a great job in 15 years from the very first step with Seb when we met and we had our first pace note together and our first podium and our first win together.

“Some were not easy I can tell you. We always worked very hard and we never forget our target was to reach the top. Once we reached the top it was even harder and more difficult to remain at the top. Mission accomplished…”

Monza marked their 54th WRC win in a partnership which began in April 2006 when they finished 29th overall and 11th in the Volant Peugeot category at the Rallye Terre de l’Auxerrois.

Ogier will continue his on selected events in the WRC’s new hybrid era next season with Benjamin Veillas alongside. But he had a heartfelt message for Ingrassia.

“It is simple. I am going to miss you. I am sure about it when you build that for so many years and you have so many automatic things working together,” Ogier said.

Video: Farewell to the retiring Julien Ingrassia'

“There was never any reason in my whole career to try to change Julien. He had the same target and the same commitment to it. It was simple and I never had to push him to do anything. We had the same mission from the beginning.”

Ahead of Monza, Ingrassia revealed on the WRC Backstories podcast how more than a decade ago he was shunned by Citroën bosses and came close to losing his seat. Ogier recalled how he refused to sanction a break-up.

“When I was entering the sport, there was this philosophy that sometimes it’s better to have an experienced co-driver at your side. Luckily I was a bit stubborn and strong enough at this point in my career to say no,” he added.

“Most drivers when they are entering this world are saying yes to everything because they are scared for their position. I was already at this moment strong enough to say Julien will make it and today I can say it was the right decision.”

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