Look back at Seb Ogier’s best wins as VW end WRC commitment from 2017.
Volkswagen have confirmed from 2017 their commitment to the FIA World Rally Championship is coming to an end as they start realigning their motorsport programme.
Last weekend, they won their fourth manufacturer’s title in a row with the VW Polo competing in 51 rallies, winning 42 of them, with 621 best times in the special stages. No other car in the history of the World Rally Championship has a better success rate.
Frank Welsch, Member of the Board of Management responsible for Technical Development, said: “We far exceeded our sporting goals in the WRC. I want to give our heartfelt thanks to our drivers and co-drivers for their outstanding achievements.”
Volkswagen Motorsport Director Sven Smeets added: “Of course, we regret the departure from the WRC very much – as this was the most successful chapter in the Volkswagen brand’s motorsport history. The team has done great things.”
As the German giants confirm the end of an astonishing run for four-time champion Sebastien Ogier and his Polo R WRC, we look back and pick five of the best wins from the last four years.
1: Rallye de France, October 2013
For the first time ever at a WRC race, the Power Stage would run before the main event. Ogier had the chance of a lifetime, to be a world champion before the rally had even begun. All he needed was one of the three Power Stage points on offer and he did it by placing third around a Strasbourg street stage. What he did after was even more amazing – he won the rally proper! Distracted and head all over the place, Ogier ran as low as fifth for much of day one. Refocused and back in the fight, he drove magnificently through the weekend, despite some horribly wet, challenging conditions. Third with a day to go, he took a commanding win and celebrated all over again.
2: Rally Mexico, March 2015
This one Ogier definitely couldn’t win. Not a hope. In the words of the champ: “My rivals would have to be very bad for me to even come close to the podium.” This was the first hot gravel rally since the FIA changed the rules and told the championship leader he had to run first on the road for the first two days. Third after a typically spectacular opener around the streets and through the tunnels of Guanajuato, Ogier’s mood was particularly despondent on the eve of the rally proper. Not for long. Noticing a slight drop in overnight temperatures, Ogier gambled on soft tyres for the first morning. They worked a treat and his innate ability to drive the car straighter than anybody meant he returned to service with rubber to spare. Naturally, he won the rally he was never meant to win.
3: Rally Sweden, February 2013
An obvious one it might be, but it was also a very, very special one: Ogier’s first win with Volkswagen. A couple of weeks before, at the Monte Carlo Rally, the Polo R WRC had broken cover and set fastest time on its first ever competitive special stage in the World Rally Championship. Ogier was second in the principality. A good start turned great, however, when the Frenchman took a brilliantly controlled win on the snows in Sweden. “I knew the car was good, but I asked myself: ‘How good is it?’ Now I know,” said Ogier. The Polo was impeccable and Ogier just as good on the way to a very satisfying victory over Sebastien Loeb’s Citroen.
4: Rally Sweden, February 2015
Heavy snow on the second day was supposed to rule Ogier out of the fight this time. His Volkswagen was turned into a high-speed snow plough, clearing the road for his rivals behind him, but the championship leader refused to give in and clung to the coat tails of the guys ahead. Going into the final day, he pushed as hard as he’s ever pushed in a rally and arrived at the start of the last stage just three seconds behind his Volkswagen team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen. Aided by a minor Mikkelsen mistake, Ogier won. Fact is, given the conditions he’d had to drive through earlier in the rally, he shouldn’t have been anywhere near the fight for the win. A lesser driver would have thrown the towel in much earlier. “I’m really proud of this one,” beamed Ogier, once he’d finished bashing the steering wheel of his Polo to demonstrate the fact.
5: Rallye Deutschland, August 2015
Volkswagen’s first failure on its home rally raised a smile, even among the team. Ogier and his Polo R WRC had won pretty much everything before them. But coming to the birthplace of the all-conquering car, it went south on the first full day when Ogier damaged the steering and was forced to retire. Twelve months later it was much worse, with the champion hospitalized after two monster crashes in as many days. Still no home win for Volkswagen. When Ogier arrived in 2015, there was real and genuine pressure for him to perform. The Volkswagen board would be making the trip, as usual, from Wolfsburg to Trier and this time they wanted something to smile about. Ogier delivered in superb fashion, with the result never looking in doubt.