Sébastien Ogier’s 10 best WRC wins

22nd November 2021
David Evans

Sébastien Ogier is an eight-time World Rally Champion. What’s more, he’s claimed his eight titles from three different manufacturers, a record that even the great Sébastien Loeb cannot claim. After clinching his final title with victory at the Monza Rally this weekend before retiring from full-time WRC competition, we thought we’d take a look back at Ogier’s ten best WRC wins. Quite the task with 54 victories under his belt, plus more in other championships…


10. Rally Mexico, 2008

When he came over the start ramp, everybody was asking the same question of the then 24-year-old Frenchman: “How do you say his surname?” The World Rally Championship media pack learned it soon enough. It took about a morning. 

Two years on from driving his first ever rally, Ogier took funding from the French Federation and combined it with a small incentive from Citroën to start the 2008 Junior World Rally Championship. Competing outside of France for the first time, few bothered to give Ogier much more than a passing glance when he arrived in Mexico. Certainly, he didn’t really feature in many pre-season form guides.

Then he won all but one stage on his first day in the JWRC. And went on to dominate the opening round of Juniors, leading from start to finish. It was an emotional and enlightening arrival on the world stage – and one that had to be described by co-driver Julien Ingrassia. Ogier was still brushing up on his English. How times have changed.

9. Rallye Monte-Carlo, 2009

Tyre giant BF Goodrich was helping to fund local star drivers in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge. The tyre firm hit the jackpot at the top of the 2009 season. The world famous Rallye Monte-Carlo had fallen out of love with what it saw as a too-prescriptive World Rally Championship and tied itself to the Eurosport-backed IRC for three years. The 2009 event delivered a dream result.

Ten months on from hitting the headlines and winning on his debut in the JWRC, Ogier did the same on his debut at the rally which had fired his passion for rallying – the one which went right past his front door in a village just outside Gap.

Handed the keys for a Peugeot 207 S2000, Ogier hit the front of his home rally on the final stage of the second day and remained there through the final day. IRC regulars and superstars of the rally world like Freddy Loix and Kris Meeke were left to stop and stare as this precocious young French driver stole the spotlight with an exceptional win on what was one of the more weather-complicated Montes in a long time. The drive was even more impressive given that he’d never competed in an S2000 car before in his life.

8. Rally Monza, 2020

Fourteen points down on Toyota team-mate Elfyn Evans arriving at last season’s World Rally Championship finale, few people gave the then six-time champion a hope of turning a half dozen titles into seven. They should have known better.

All Ogier could do was turn on the talent, lead the rally and try to pressure the Brit into a mistake. Did it work? Hard to say – but Evans did make a mistake on the second day and that mistake left the door wide open for the champion to swipe the crown back that he’d loaned Ott Tänak through 2019.

What makes last year’s Monza impressive is the commitment he showed in some of the trickiest conditions the WRC has run in in recent years. Heavy snow landed in the mountains north of Milan and it was winter that caught Evans out after he slipped off the road – Ogier was absolutely planted. His pace was majestic, and he never once looked like making a serious mistake in horribly tricky conditions. That win delivered the title, but it also meant a great deal to Ogier – it meant he’d the World Rally Championship with three different manufacturers (Volkswagen, M-Sport Ford and Toyota).


7. Rally Germany, 2011

The history books illustrate a couple of reasons for including Deutschland, 2011 in this top 10. Trier a decade ago was where Ogier scored his maiden WRC win on asphalt. He also became the first winner of Germany’s world championship counter not to be called Loeb – a 39-second win over his then seven-time champion Citroën colleague was surely something to be celebrated. And celebrate Ogier did.

His win, it’s fair to say, wasn’t just as popular in every quarter. In fact, it was the beginning of the end of his first chapter with the Versailles manufacturer. Instructed by then team principal Olivier Quesnel to hold station behind Loeb at the end of day one, Ogier was deeply frustrated.

When Loeb dropped a minute with a puncture on the final Panzerplatte stage on day two, Ogier could barely conceal his glee. “At least there’s some justice in the sport,” he said before going on to win. Loeb offered a fairly cool response. “Maybe,” said Séb the first, “he talks too much…”

For whatever reason, Ogier’s maiden Tarmac success will always be one of the most memorable.  


6. Rally Portugal, 2010

A fortnight before Rally Portugal Ogier had come within 2.4 seconds of winning his first ever WRC round in New Zealand. Pipped to victory by Jari-Matti Latvala on the North Island, Ogier was doubly determined to put that right when he landed into Faro for the following round. 

Moving into the lead mid-way through the opening day inland from the Algarve, Ogier didn’t look back. He started Sunday with 21 seconds in hand over his senior Citroën team-mate Loeb and plenty predicted the master would catch and pass his younger compatriot. It didn’t happen.

Loeb was fulsome in his praise, saying: “I tried for the whole rally to beat him, but I couldn’t. On the second run at the stages, he was untouchable. I have a new rival now…”

Just over two years after his first ever WRC start, Ogier was winning at the sport’s highest level and the nightmare of Aotearoa was erased.


5. Rally Sweden, 2013

For all their pre-event humility and the desire to arrive – in competitive terms at least – under the radar, the season-opening Monte Carlo Rally had raised expectations. Sébastien Ogier’s first stage in a Volkswagen Polo R WRC ended in him leading the rally. Ultimately, he finished second, but notice had been served.

The steamroller had started. And, a month later in Sweden, it went through the gears. Ninth after Thursday night’s Karlstad superspecial, the Frenchman hit the front on the first stage proper and stayed there for the next three days. Not once did Ogier look like being beaten in a supreme display to beat his Scandinavian and more snow-sure team-mate, Jari-Matti Latvala, into second place.

Ogier’s first non-Citroën WRC win moved him ahead in the championship standings and was the first of nine victories, powering him to a maiden title with a 114-point margin over his nearest rival.


4. Rallye Monte-Carlo, 2017

How many Montes can we include in one list? The 2009 success was an absolute must, but the second slot was a tricky decision between 2017 and 2019. The latter of the two marked his impressive return to Citroën with a 2.2-second victory over Thierry Neuville in an absolute thriller of a final stage run.

But for me, his 2017 debut with M-Sport Ford World Rally team was even better. A matter of weeks before the start of the year, Volkswagen Motorsport announced its departure from the World Rally Championship in a decision that rocked everybody’s world – especially Ogier’s. He’d been an integral part of the development of the 2017-specification Polo R WRC and fully expected his total domination of the world championship to continue hand in hand with Hanover into a fifth successive season. Suddenly, he was out of work. No drive. He tried Toyota’s Yaris WRC and was singularly unimpressed, then in early December, 2016, M-Sport managing director Malcolm Wilson picked him up from Cardiff airport and drove him to a forest in Wales, where he tested one of the Cumbrian-made Ford Fiesta WRCs. It was an instant hit and the deal was done.

There wasn’t, however, much time for the Frenchman to find his feet in the new car – something that was obvious when he slid into a third stage ditch and shipped half a minute to Neuville, who was feeling far more familiar with his Hyundai.

Ogier simply didn’t let up and when Neuville made a mistake, he pounced to land M-Sport its first WRC win since 2012. 

3. Rally Mexico, 2015

By the start of the 2015 season, it was very obvious that Ogier had become a victim of his own success. He’d demonstrated crushing domination of series for the previous two years – to the tune of winning his maiden title by a whopping 114 points. He ‘only’ managed a 49-point margin in 2014. Across those two years, he’d won 17 rallies in his Volkswagen Polo R WRC. He had to be stopped. Or at least slowed. The decision was taken by the series stakeholders – with senior figures admitting at the time that the move was done solely in the hopes of giving the best of the rest a chance – to further handicap the championship leader. Ahead of 2015, the running order regulation was tweaked to ensure the driver at the top of the table would run first on the road for the first two days of a rally, not just day one. Ogier was incensed. 

He knew the thinking behind the change and he even considered walking away from the WRC. On gravel rallies, sweeping the loose stones from the surface to make a faster line for those following for one day made winning tough. Under the new rule, according to Ogier, it would be impossible for the championship leader to win on the loose.

In Mexico, Ogier did just that that. His third round victory in 2015 was one of the sweetest for him personally and one of the most impressive in the sport’s history. 

But that was just one example, there were plenty more where Ogier defied the odds and the rulemakers. 

2. Rally Jordan, 2011

When Syrian authorities cut up rough about allowing the WRC freight to travel through its port, it looked like Jordan might be lost. Then Citroën team principal Olivier Quesnel thought that was a good idea and actually gave his backing to the event’s cancellation. A new route was found, bringing the kit in through Haifa in Israel.

The team’s cargo containing everything needed to run a rally and service a World Rally Car arrived into the Dead Sea service area late, but everything was thrown together and a shortened event started a day later than planned.

Come Sunday afternoon, Quesnel was very glad the rally was running. Going into the final stage, then Ford man Jari-Matti Latvala held a half-second lead over Ogier’s DS 3 WRC. 

Ogier won that final stage by four-hundredths of a second from Mikko Hirvonen. More importantly, he took seven tenths out of J-ML to win by 0.2 seconds. That remains the closest ever finish in the history of the World Rally Championship. 

1. Rally de France Alsace, 2013 

The t-shirts had to be put away for another rally. Ogier was widely expected to lift his first drivers’ title at the 2013 Rally Australia. It didn’t happen. He did his bit and won the event and was on course to lift the crown when Mikko Hirvonen suffered a puncture on the final stage, leaving Thierry Neuville second. The Belgian’s late elevation meant Ogier was a point short of securing the title. So, to France.

On departing the southern hemisphere, Ogier tried to look on the bright side and pointed out that it might be nice to celebrate at home. But he didn’t expect to be celebrating becoming a world champion the night before the rally proper even got underway. But that’s what happened. The organisers of the Alsace-based event elected to run their bonus points-paying powerstage on Thursday night and when Ogier posted the third quickest time around the three-mile Strasbourg test, the deal was done. The much-needed point was his and with it the championship.

Understandably struggling for focus through the Friday stages, Ogier recovered from a slower-than-usual start and an early fifth place to power his way back through the field. Setting a blistering pace in some horribly wet conditions to move back to the top of the timesheets on the opening stage of the final morning. In precisely the same stage, Sébastien Loeb – on his farewell outing with Citroën – rolled his DS 3 WRC into retirement and out of a fascinating lead fight. An overwhelming sense of the guard being changed hung over Strasbourg that autumn evening.

Images courtesy of Motorsport Images.

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