Ogier, a rising star in the Land of the Rising Sun! Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia achieved a stunning feat by winning Rally Japan on their debut in the event. The Citroen Total World Rally Team crew scored their second world championship...
Ogier, a rising star in the Land of the Rising Sun!
Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia achieved a stunning feat by winning Rally Japan on their debut in the event. The Citroen Total World Rally Team crew scored their second world championship victory after a masterly drive. Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena who finished fifth scored previous points for both world championship titles.
The third day of Rally Japan was much shorter than the two previous ones. It consisted of eight stages including six of less than five kilometres. The crew left the service park, which they would not see again until the finish, at the crack of dawn and set off for Sunagawa, 70 kilometres north of Sapporo.
In the Citroen Total World Rally Team, the two crews were pursuing objectives as different as Yin and Yang! Sebastien Ogier in third place 5.4s behind, was locked in battle for victory with Petter Solberg and Mikko Hirvonen. Sebastien Loeb in sixth place 37.9s in arrears, was playing a waiting game to score as many points as possible in view of his seventh world title. So it was `Banzi' for Ogier and `Zen' for Loeb!
After warming up with Bizan, the crews tackled Naekawa (SS20), the equalizer on this leg thanks to its 18 kilometres. Ogier drew first blood as the no.2 C4 WRC driver set the fastest time and retook the rally lead, which he'd lost at the end of SS3: "This stage was fairly dry and I had better road conditions than the first two. I had to go for it to try and make the break."
Ogier managed to widen the gap in Naekawa 2 (SS23). His 11.3s lead over Solberg was like a country mile given the very small gaps throughout the rally: "I'll have to stay concentrated right till the end, said the Frenchman. ,There are three short stages left three opportunities to make a fatal mistake!"
However, there were no changes in the overall classification in the last three stages, and the Ogier / Ingrassia duo climbed onto the topmost step of the podium! "Obviously, I'm delighted to have scored another victory, my first for the Citroen Total World Rally Team. I couldn't dream of a better present to thank the team for its confidence in me" laughed Ogier. "Everything went off exactly as planned. I'm not really very keen on these stages but I managed to adapt my driving style to find the right rhythm. I think I've made another big step forward this weekend."
Ogier won his bet and so did Loeb who finished fifth after setting three fastest times in today's loop. "I was never really in the running for victory but I'm happy with ten points; A forty-three point lead with three rallies left to go is still a fairly comfortable situation. My calculations for Rally France are pretty simple as I'll win the title if I come first whatever the positions of my rivals. I'd like to congratulate Sebastien on his victory as I can tell you that finding the right dose of speed to push hard on this kind of terrain wasn't at all obvious."