Exuberant scenes greeted newly-crowned world champions Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia as they returned to the Volkswagen Motorsport service park in Rallye de France - Alsace’s host city of Strasbourg tonight.
Team members wearing specially-prepared ‘World Champions’ T-shirts waved banners and sounded horns as Ogier steered his Polo R into its parking place. The noise reached a crescendo as the crew leapt out of the car and jumped onto the bonnet to celebrate in front of the waiting TV crews and photographers.
“The way we have won this title is amazing,” said Ogier. “In a year we have gone from zero to world champions and it’s such a great story. It’s been a hard year with a lot of work, development, and effort from everyone. It’s Volkswagen’s first year in WRC and we have not finished the season yet, but already we are champions.”
Ogier knew before he tackled the test that the title was his. Thierry Neuville, the only man that could deny him, needed maximum bonus points from winning the Power Stage to keep the battle alive. However, he was slower than stage winner Dani Sordo and so Ogier, in the last pair to start the test, did so as world champion.
“It was a strange feeling to realise I was champion, but I still had to drive the stage. I was shaking a lot inside the car and I didn’t expect that. But I was happy because it meant that I had a lot of emotion, and sometimes I’m not emotional enough,” Ogier told wrc.com.
“The stage was less than 5km but it seemed longer because it was difficult to stay concentrated. There was a lot of joy at the finish.
With three days of competition ahead, there will be no opportunity for Ogier to celebrate tonight, and already his thoughts were turning towards trying to win his home rally.
“It’s strange to be world champion on Thursday night! We have been working many years for this but now we have to focus on the rally tomorrow, enjoy the weekend and perform well. Our next goal is to bring good points to the team and ensure we get another title to celebrate – the manufacturers’ crown,” he added.