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GP Week : Issue 32
5 Minutes with ... Sebastien Ogier His name is Sebastien, he’s a rally champ, and he drives a Citroen. And his surname isn’t Loeb.MARTIN HOLMES meets the Next Big Thing Meet the ‘other’Citroen rally driver whose first name is Sebastien, the man who has won the Junior World Rally Championship in the same year that he made his debut appearance on a World Championship Rally – an achievement which sets him apart from his peers. It all started back in Mexico where he finished eighth overall, gained an overall world championship point, and also won the JWRC category. Quite a start to his full time international professional career! … GPWEEK: Why did you want to go rallying? SEBASTIEN OGIER: Since I was small I have always liked mechanical sports. My home area in Gap, in the department of Haute Alpes, has a big tradition of the Monte- Carlo Rally. We went with friends to go and watch the rally, and when I was young there was also a lot of snow in those days. Now it is different, it has become a normal tarmac rally, completely different but still a very tricky event for the drivers. I still have special memories of Rallye Monte-Carlo and my favourite was Tommi Makinen, and later on Sebastien Loeb as well. One of my great ambitions for the future is to have the chance to compete on the 18 Monte Carlo. My chance to start rallying in earnest came from the Rallye Jeunes training scheme, a selection process run by the French federation, the FFSA. How did you decide to enter the Young Drivers scheme? It was a good idea. A lot of top French drivers have passed through the scheme. I would never have been rallying without it. I came to know about the scheme because I worked as a mechanic for drivers who were taking part in it, especially for Denis Millet who now is a leading driver in the Peugeot 106 Cup and also Arnaud Augoyard who the federation supported on last year’s Tour de Corse in a Renault. But in reality I had always wanted to be a driver myself. What have you discovered in your first season in the JWRC? It all came about after last year when I was competing in the Peugeot 206 Cup. 2008 was to be the first year the FFSA decided to sponsor the chance for a ‘Young Driver’ to contest a major international championship at the wheel of a competitive car. Then I discovered what the world championship rallies are all about. The rallies are long, and you cannot attack all the time. You have to think about preserving the car. And every rally in the championship is different and wonderful. There is such a lot to learn What is your dream? Obviously to become an official works driver, but of course to win the Junior. I dream about the day when I can drive Sebastien Loeb’s car, and maybe if I am good enough, I will have the chance one day! I am hoping that Citroen will give me that opportunity. I have already tested a WRCar once, I did a test on tarmac just after Neste Oil Rally Finland this year. It was a fantastic day. A World Rally Car is a highly efficient car, not immediately difficult to drive but extremely difficult to find the limits where Sebastien Loeb lives! Sebastien has been a great help in my career. Fast fact: Sebastien famously shares the Christian name of the most successful rally driver the world has ever known. But he also shares his family name with Jean- Claude Ogier, a most accomplished race and rally driver from the ‘60s, a driver who was at the wheel of an official Citroen on rallies. Two extraordinary coincidences, but he has no direct connection with either driver at all …