In our final driver review of the year we take a look at Sebastien Ogier - the man who successfully defended his title to remain on top of the world.
2014 Vital Statistics – Sebastien Ogier
|Drivers’ Championship position:||1st|
|Drivers' Championship points:||267|
|Stage wins (from a season total of 249):||94|
|Power Stage points:||20|
2014 in summary: As defending champion, at the wheel of the best car and with long-time rival Sebastien Loeb finally absent, Ogier began the season as favourite to take the title for a second time. But while he did achieve the goal in the end, it certainly wasn’t an easy ride.
Things started well with victory on the opening round in Monte Carlo, but a lowly eight points on the next rally in Sweden opened the door for his Volkswagen team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala who was to be his biggest title threat throughout the season.
Between them, Ogier and the increasingly confident Latvala won every rally until round nine, Volkswagen’s home event in Germany. Ogier had the edge over his team-mate, five wins to three, but in Germany, amid speculation that he might leave VW at the end of the year, things went wrong. Ogier’s usual confidence was absent - with two crashes and a second DNF in two years the most obvious sign that all was not well.
Ogier later admitted that he had been mentally weak in Germany, saying he had been distracted by discussions about proposed rule changes for 2015 and had lacked motivation. He regained his focus by Rally Australia, when he won and took second on the Power Stage, but on the next round in France a gearbox problem cost him his first chance to wrap up the title.
He sealed the championhisp with victory on the next round in Spain, days after confirming a new contract with VW. Another win on the season finale in Wales gave him a season total of eight wins - one less than he managed in 2013 but still twice as many as his closest rival Latvala.
To sum it up: A deserving champion, Ogier became only the eighth driver to lift the WRC title more than once, but he had to overcome a fierce challenge from his team-mate and a mid-season mental wobble to do it.
Q: Best moment of the season?
SO: ”There were a few, and it’s always difficult to pick one, but let’s say the moment we crossed the finish line in Spain. The moment we got the second title - that was the most special.”
Q: Your biggest near-disaster of the season?
SO: “It happened quite soon in the season - on the first corner of the Monte Carlo Rally! We made a wrong tyre choice, fitting slicks when it was icy, and I hit a wall. I thought my rally was over there but luckily we just damaged the wheel a little.”
Q: What are you most looking forward to next year?
SO: “That’s hard to say, especially with the new [start order] regulations that are not going to help me. But that’s just the way it is. Let’s see.”
Q: Your best party of 2014?
SO: "The end of season celebrations [at the Volkswagen factory] in Wolfsburg - together with all the team and the guys in the workshop who don’t get to come on the events.”