The World Rally Championship has its first new champion in nearly a decade – and wouldn’t you know it, this one’s called Sebastien too. Taking over the mantle from unbeatable Frenchman Sebastien Loeb is his fellow countryman Sebastien Ogier, driving for VW rather than Loeb’s dominating Citroen World Rally Team.
How did Ogier manage to beat Loeb to the 2013 WRC title?
Loeb chose to compete in ‘selected events’ in 2013, opting to race in the Monte Carlo, Sweden and Argentina and France events. He finished first, second, first and seventh respectively. Meanwhile, as Loeb was trying his hand at GT3 racing in a McLaren MP4-12C and readying his WTCC challenge, Ogier romped to victory with almost three full events remaining. VW is leading the constructors’ title race and is odds-on favourite to take the title – the first rookie manufacturer ever to do so.
Ogier and his co-driver Julien Ingrassia (also of France) took an unassailable lead in the driver’s chase at their home event of Rally France, after winning the opening Power Stage. That followed a slight scare in the pre-event shakedown, when their Polo was blocked by a hydraulic traffic barrier being accidentally raised in the car’s path. The things they’ll do to make WRC watchable…
With Loeb out of the way for most of the season, taking the title at Loeb’s home rally and one of his selected favorites must’ve been the most satisfying manner of taking the crown for Ogier. Meanwhile, Loeb was well down the order – perhaps signaling a new dawn for WRC.
What’s the spec of Ogier’s company car?
The VW Polo R WRC is powered by a 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine, which, as per the regulations, uses the same block and head gasket as a production Polo TFSI. The turbocharged motor develops 300bhp, which is delivered to all four permanently driven wheels via a six-speed sequential racing transmission, and front and rear limited-slip differentials.
Although almost entirely stripped of a regular Polo’s creature comforts, the FIA-spec steel roll cage and 20mm wider bodywork (plus that bulletproof AWD system) mean the Polo R WRC is no lighter than a common-or-garden showroom Polo, at 1200kg.
It’s a good deal faster though: depending on gearing it’ll sprint to 60mph in less than four seconds, and top speeds in competition can top 120mph, over just about any surface.
Former VW chief engineer and current Vw Group motorsport supremo Dr Ulrich Hackenburg said of the win: ‘I am proud that our WRC project, which we launched over two years ago, has already yielded a title today. With Audi winning the DTM on Sunday and the WRC title today, this is the perfect end to what, for me personally, has been my most successful week in motorsport to date.’
Where have I see Sebastien Ogier before?
CAR met Ogier and Ingrassia back in September 2012, as the VW WRC outfit prepped its challenge ahead of a full-scale assault on the world title in 2013. Back then, Loeb hadn’t announced his intention to only race a handful of rallies, and Ogier was relishing the prospect of a title showdown.
CAR’s Ben Barry put it: ‘If corporate muscle flexing from the world’s largest car company can reinvigorate the WRC, I’m all for it. In the meantime, Ogier is working flat out to tee up a championship battle that’ll keep us on the edge of our seats. It can’t come soon enough.’