A clean sweep of asphalt victories laid the platform for Sébastien Ogier to secure his fourth consecutive FIA World Rally Championship title in Spain yesterday.
Ogier favours gravel roads but four of his five wins were achieved on asphalt-based events, starting with January’s season-opening Rallye Monte-Carlo.
Second half wins in Germany, Corsica and the mixed surface RallyRACC Catalunya - Rally de España, in which he beat Dani Sordo by 15.6sec yesterday, guaranteed the title with two rounds to spare.
The irony wasn’t lost on the Frenchman. “It’s the first time we made the Grand Slam on asphalt. No gravel wins this season, but it’s still my favourite surface. I guess I have the chance to put that right on the next round in Britain. That’s my next target, to correct that statistic,” he told wrc.com.
The Volkswagen Polo R pilot, whose Spanish win was his 37th career success, said he couldn’t draw a comparison between his latest win and his three previous world titles.
“You don’t want to compare them,” he explained. “There were always some differences but they are always so enjoyable and always meaning a lot for me, even if they happen in different conditions.
“This year, once again, we had to fight hard to get it and I’m as proud of this one as the others. Of course, you always feel the first one a bit stronger because you reach your goal, your dream, but this one has the same value.
“There were a lot of great moments and I can’t really place one on top of the others. I often mention Monte-Carlo, because I love this one. It’s my heart rally and I always mention that it’s the most important rally of the season to win for me,” he added.
Ogier clinched the win on the same Duesaigües Power Stage in which he crashed out of the lead 12 months ago. He ensured there would be no repetition this time.
“Before the final stage I had it a bit in my mind and I really extra concentrated myself before the start to be awake. I know that stage perfectly and if I was really concentrated there was no reason to make a mistake. Last year I was a bit too relaxed maybe on this one,” he said.