Ogier will miss title fight with Loeb

Sébastien Ogier is disappointed he won’t get the chance to go head-to-head with his old rival Sébastien Loeb for the WRC title in 2019.

The French duo are the most successful drivers in the history of the series, having won 15 world titles and 123 rallies between them.

Loeb bowed out of the WRC as a full time driver in 2013, but after three guest appearances with Citroën last year, and the ending of his World Rallycross Championship programme with Peugeot, hopes were raised of a potential season-long duel with former team-mate Ogier in the WRC.

But with Loeb confirmed for a part programme in 2019 after signing a two-year deal with Hyundai Motorsport last week, Ogier will have to be content with going head-to-head on six occasions rather than 14.

Speaking at a pre-season test in the South of France, Ogier said: “It is disappointing it’s not for a full programme, that would have been much nicer for the championship. But that’s how it is.

“It won’t change our championship because if they [Loeb and Hyundai] don’t want to do the full championship, we will not focus on them. Like always, we will focus on our real challengers.”

Old rivals: Loeb [left] and Ogier will go head-to-head on six events in 2019

As a rapidly developing driver, Ogier spent two seasons locked in a fierce on-stage battle with Loeb when they were team-mates at Citroën in 2010 and 2011.

As Loeb stepped back from the WRC, Ogier came of age as a driver and has gone on to dominate every season since, winning six WRC titles.

For now, he will have to be content to lock horns with Loeb at selected events in 2019, starting with next month’s season-opening Rallye Monte-Carlo (24-27 January).

As he continues to get to grips with Citroën’s C3 WRC during pre-season testing, Ogier isn’t setting himself any targets as he prepares to tackle his first event with the French manufacturer since he left to join Volkswagen in 2012.

“I always aim high that’s no question. I’m pretty relaxed with that and I don’t want to put any extra pressure on my shoulders,” he said. “I will try my best like I always do. Hopefully it will be enough but if not we will work even harder to be back where we want to be.”

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