Ogier came "close" to retiring after 2016 season
Reigning WRC champion Sebastien Ogier has admitted he gave retiring from the sport serious thought at the end of the 2016 season, following Volkswagen's exit.
Ogier took a fourth consecutive WRC title last year, but found himself without a seat as a result of the VW's decision to quit the category.
While M-Sport and Toyota both made bids to secure Ogier's signature, taking a sabbatical was also reported as a serious option for the Frenchman.
Such rumours were given extra credibility by the fact that Ogier had grown frustrated with last year's running order rule, which made it virtually impossible for him to win on gravel rallies in 2016.
He eventually signed with M-Sport, but Ogier said he indeed thought carefully about retiring due to his desire to spend more time with his wife and newborn son.
"Seriously, I thought about it [retiring]. It’s getting harder to leave home and leave my little one," said Ogier after topping shakedown in Monte Carlo.
"Sometimes I was close to go in this direction, but I thought if I do it I will never come back – I didn’t want a sabbatical. Then I say OK, I still have lot of pleasure and I still want to try a little more.
"Obviously the timing of the Volkswagen decision put us in a very difficult situation with not so many options. I choose the one which gives me the best chance to continue to perform. We’ll see.
"It’s a new era and there is a question mark for everybody with the new cars."
Ogier an "outsider" in 2017
Having signed with M-Sport only in December, Ogier reckons the lack of preparation time he has had will make the start of the season difficult.
"It’s strange to make a step back as more of an outsider for this season, but at least with Julien [Ingrassia, co-driver], we have a lot of experience and we have some hope," he said.
"We will do our best. We start the season with very little time in the car and the team and it’s definitely difficult.
"We need to be fast but also reliable and clever. In the past we have proven we can have some strong argument, let’s see what we can do – but it’s sure I would like more preparation.
"And we know this [M-Sport] is the only private team in the championship and it’s always hard to fight against the manufacturers.
"But at least this is an exceptional private team which has proved for many many years that they can do really, really well.
"Even if the last years were not so good, I trust them. I went into this challenge feeling something could come out, otherwise I would have stayed home with my little [son] Tim."
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