Where’s Ogier headed this week?
Are we any clearer? Depends who you ask. In the course of the last week in Australia, Sebastien Ogier has been a confirmed M-sport driver, back at Citroen and taking a year out to do some endurance racing and family stuff.
The one thing which has been curious by its absence is much talk of Ogier at Toyota – the one place where he could actually bag himself a wage rise next season, if that was what motivated him. Which it’s not.
Communication from Puuppola, according to those close to Ogier, hasn’t been lightning quick. “Maybe,” one insider said, “one four-time world champion is enough in that team…”
Citroen’s the interesting one. Some still find it impossible to believe the Parisians won’t find a way to bring a French world champion home. Conversely, Malcolm Wilson couldn’t be plainer in how much he wants Ogier.
If Ogier likes the Ford Fiesta RS WRC, we could have a deal done by the end of the week.
As much as Ogier needs a deal, he also needs time in his new car before the start of the Monte.
The last hope of seeing Volkswagen’s Polo R WRC in action next season has been extinguished by Skoda boss Bernhard Maier.
There had been speculation that Volkswagen’s 2017 car could be taken on by group stable-mate Skoda, badged and run as a Fabia WRC. Such a move would ensure some value would have been realised for the group following the millions spent on developing the Polo.
Maier poured cold water on such talk, saying the Czech firm’s rallying aspirations remain within its customer-based Fabia R5 programme – ironically where it will face competition from Volkswagen’s own Polo R5 in 2018.
Maier told Autocar: “It will not happen. We have enjoyed success in rallying and we are enjoying success in rallying, in the WRC2 category. We have a successful customer programme that doesn’t cost us money and could earn us the championship, so why would I change that?
“Doing more is not always better – what would we bring ourselves in addition to what we are already achieving in rallying? A WRC2 championship is fine for Skoda, certainly it provides the best return on money invested, because it does not really cost us.”