Where’s Ogier headed this week?

Motor Sport News - - Rally News -

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.”

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