French driver Sebastien Ogier sits on brink of third WRC title
Frenchman Sebastien Ogier can secure his third straight FIA World Rally Championship at Coates Hire Rally Australia, which started this morning, and join an exclusive club of drivers with three or more titles.
Only fellow Frenchman Sébastien Loeb (nine) along with Finns Juha Kankkunen and Tommi Mäkinen (four each) have lifted the crown more times and Ogier’s sixth win of the season in Germany last month puts him within touching distance of joining them.
Ogier leads Volkswagen Motorsport teammate Jari-Matti Latvala by 93 points in the WRC drivers’ standings and if he finishes ahead of the Finn, no matter in what position, the title will be his this weekend.
If Latvala wins, second and a bonus point from Sunday’s Power Stage would also be sufficient for Ogier with three rounds still to run.
``Now I have a real chance to get it. I have the cards in my hand to secure it in Australia and why not? It is a rally I really love, a very special event,” said Ogier.
The Frenchman is the form driver in Australia, having won in 2013 and 2014, but must overcome the potential disadvantage of opening the roads today and on Saturday, sweeping slippery gravel from the surface for the benefit of his pursuers.
Volkswagen starts Australia on the back of a 1-2-3 at its home round in Germany and the team can also secure its third straight manufacturers’ title.
``We obviously want to take the momentum our home win has given us to Australia, although the conditions will be completely different Down Under,” motorsport director Jost Capito said.
“We would like to wrap up all three titles (drivers’ co-drivers’ and manufacturers’) with rallies to come and we have a realistic chance of doing just that. We will have to do another perfect job in order to emerge successful,” he added.
Competitive action starts today on three new special stages around Taylors Arm, south-west of the Coffs Harbour rally base. Crews will cover 17 special stages over 311 kms of State forest and shire roads before the finish in the Coffs Harbour CBD at 5pm (NZ time) on Sunday.