Nancy Knapp Schilke, WRC Correspondent
Ogier and navigator Ingrassia bring impressive record to Volkswagen
Sebastien Ogier and his co-driver driver Julien Ingrassia will be the main team for the Volkswagen factory entry into the World Rally Championship. The 27 year old French rally ace is the first factory driver signed by Volkswagen as they prepare their Polo R WRC for the 2013 contest.
“I am very happy about Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia joining us,” says Dr Ulrich Hackenberg, Member of the Volkswagen Brand Board of Management for the Development Division. “Both of them are important pieces of the puzzle on our way towards building a successful team in the World Rally Championship.”
I’m sure that they’re going to compete with the goal of clinching the WRC title.
The German automobile manufacturer already has a stellar reputation as does their newly signed driver. In May of this year, the German manufacturer announced their 2013 entry with a five-year commitment. They are the second constructor to enter the WRC after a dry spell for the series. MINI ran selected events this year as part of their test programme and had a fine showing. At this time, Volkswagen as not stated if they would enter any 2012 events while they continue their development stages. They have been contested the S2000 which is part of the SWRC this year using a Skoda Fabia.
Just a few weeks ago, the German development team ran a test of the new Polo near their home base with former WRC champion Carlos Sainz, who races for Volkswagen in cross-country rally raids and he is a Dakar legend [champion]. They deemed the first test a a success and are looking forward to having Ogier and Ingrassia now on the team for future testing.
“The first test with the new Polo R WRC is a special moment and marks an important milestone in the preparations for our entry in the WRC,” commented Hackenberg after the test. “We’re well on schedule and are now able to start testing our concepts and developments in reality. The WRC is the top category in rally sport and a great challenge for the team, the drivers and the technology. We’re taking on this challenge and will be making efficient use of the time before we start into our first competition.”
Volkswagen’s Motorsport Director Kris Nissen said, “We are proud that such a successful and quick duo as Sebastien Ogier and his co-driver Julien Ingrassia have decided to join Volkswagen. The aim of putting a competitive Polo R WRC on the road for them as quickly as possible will additionally drive our team.”
Ogier became known worldwide in 2007 when he landed the title in the French Peugeot 206 Cup. He moved up immediately the following year to take on the Junior World Rally Championship – the ladder series to the WRC main series -- and he came out of the gate with a talent that amazed even his own home fans. His debut with the JWRC Citroen C2 in Mexico stunned many when he won the JWRC class and took eighth overall to earn a single point. The Frenchman made history as he became the first JWRC driver to earn a main series (WRC) point!
He continued to showcase his talent in 2008 when he claimed his first and only JWRC title at his home event, the Tour de Corse. Citroen was impressed and placed him in one of their C4s for the WRC season finale in Wales. Even his WRC team mate Sebastien Loeb was surprised when he won the first stage!
Volkswagen Motorsport signed Ogier and Ingrassia to contracts that take place immediately as they prepare for the future. The talented duo, whom finished third this year in the WRC final points, will be doing development work. Ogier came to every WRC event fully prepared to go for the win; despite the fact that he was first assigned to the secondary Junior Citroen team and the main driver for the French team was the newly crowned eight times consecutive WRC champion Sebastien Loeb.
Per the press release by his new team: “Volkswagen is the number one in Europe and will soon be number one in the world,” said an exuberant Sebastien Ogier on his arrival in Hanover. “I’m sure that they’re going to compete with the goal of clinching the WRC title. And I’m happy to be part of this from the outset.”
Ogier and Ingrassia took their first overall victory in the 2010 Rally de Portugal. Today, Ingrassia stated, “We’re looking forward to a team with a fighting spirit and the determination to win. Anything’s possible!”
The two former Citroen team drivers amassed seven wins with 14 podiums in the 46 WRC events the contested. They have 107 stage wins but it has been a rough ride; especially this past season when Ogier and his cohort were moved to the main team, replacing Dani Sordo. The relationship between Ogier and Loeb was strained which In a way was odd, as both men are outgoing, but then again, they are both outspoken.
Hackenberg added that signing them is a “mark of confidence” for the new Volkswagen WRC team. For Ogier and Ingrassia, it might lead to the gold they desire by landing a WRC championship. They will have one year off of a full season of competition as they work with Volkswagen to fine-tune the new WRC challenger.
“The aim of putting a competitive Polo R WRC on the road for them as quickly as possible will additionally drive our team. We look forward to working with them and are hoping for many victories and titles in the future,” said Nissen.