When Volkswagen Motorsport announced its decision to withdraw from the World Rally Championship in November, a scramble began for the signature of Seb Ogier, and understandably. The Frenchman had dominated the championship winning 22 rallies out of 54 over the course of four years - a remarkable return of 40% of every event at which he turned up despite the combative, attritional nature of many of the events.
And with that litany of wins came a quartet of world titles until the Volkswagen announcement, which resulted in a switch to M-Sport Ford for the upcoming season. With what the 33-year-old has already achieved on his career CV, despite the clock ticking against him with little preparation time for the new season on 20 January in Monte Carlo, he is not feeling any undue pressure.
“I have achieved a lot these last years but feel I am in a position that I have nothing to lose,” he said. “I have nothing to prove anymore.”
Only Sebastien Loeb boasts more championship and event wins - nine and 78 respectively to Ogier’s tally of four and 38. But with a rich honours list already, Ogier is not about to rest on his laurels for the upcoming season, and there is a hope he can, to some degree, reawaken a sleeping giant in the Malcolm Wilson-headed M-Sport.
“I will try my best and it is definitely a good challenge to try to bring this team back to success after many years of struggle,” said Ogier even though time behind the cockpit before his home event has been understandably limited.
“I had two days already this week in Sweden for the first test. I will have another test in January before the rally which is normally two days so it will not be much time in this car so hopefully the feeling comes very quickly.
“But that is why I said we have a big challenge in front of us and it is a bit early to know what we will be able to achieve.”
There have been major changes in and out of the car in recent months having become a father to a son, Tim, for the first time six months ago. While he is adamant the drive to succeed has not left him in parenthood, the priorities have shifted. “It has made it more difficult to leave home. To become a father changed my life for sure. It makes me think a bit differently and have a different perspective about life for sure.
“There were many years when I was completely focused on racing and of course now I continue to do it professionally and give my best but I want to give some time and enjoy time with my family. I want to be a good dad, that is one of my targets now".