OGIER Ogier and Ford makes sense says...
TO MAKE DECISION THIS WEEK Champion ready to commit to team for 2017
Thirty-five years go, Ari Vatanen won the World Rally Championship drivers’ title in a private Ford. Nobody really remembers it was David Sutton rather than Boreham behind that Rothmans Ford Escort. It would be the same if Sebastien Ogier became the first driver to take the title behind the Blue Oval next season.
Ford withdrew from the WRC at the end of 2012, but to the wider world, it never left.
Ford stands its best chance ever of celebrating world championship success with an Ogier agreement next year – and it’s not even competing in the series officially.
One of Ogier’s main rivals told MN last week: “Ford can buy the title next season. That’s what you would get with Seb.”
This is a gilt-edged opportunity for Ford to enjoy global success, by association. And Ogier wants an association with Ford: he’s talked of his desire for stability and manufacturer connection – driving an M-sport-built Ford Fiesta RS WRC would deliver that.
Global glory for a fresh out of the box Fiesta road car would offer Ford the perfect opportunity to win on Sunday and sell on Sunday evening. Especially in Gap, France and the rest of the world.
There are new cars for everybody, it’s going to be an interesting season to see where is Seb going and how Citroen and Toyota is coming back.”
Hyundai drivers Thierry Neuville and Dani Sordo both feel Ogier will be most likely to go to Citroen.
Sordo said: “If I am him I go to Citroen, but Ogier and [Kris] Meeke in the same team? [Citroen team principal Yves] Matton will need to be careful. Meeke is fast, but he is hot! He can win a lot of rallies, but for Kris it’s win or nothing – like Colin [Mcrae] and this is nice for the people.”
Neuville added Ogier’s ability to challenge Hyundai would depend on his choice of car.
“Citroen,” he said, “is the logical choice for him – even if I would like to see him in the Ford. How difficult it will be for him depends on how competitive is the car. If the car is s**t, you can do nothing. He will be fast, but not fast enough.
“If I was a four-time world champion, I try to sell myself to the most competitive team. Him and Meeke together? That would be a good benefit for me. Kris won’t like to see him coming there. It could be some clashes, like [Sebastien] Loeb-ogier again, but I’m not the boss of Citroen.
“I don’t care, but I hope they wouldn’t get on well!”