In a last of its kind, the Sebastien vs Sebastien [Loeb.vs.Ogier] that is definitely going into the books of World Rally Championship history, we are awaiting for the final action to begin at Rallye de France, Alsace.
This will be his the last official outing of the nine-timer World Rally Champion driver is competing for himself and for us! For all the fans of WRC, & Loeb, this is the last and final chance to witness the clash of the titans. Ogier will be clinching the title [for sure!?] here, and Loeb may win the event, only time can tell us this historical event.
Citroen Racing also went on an extra-mile to design a special livery for Loeb‘s ride, and insert all his achievement with bold numbers to commemorate their legendary driver’s contribution. Loeb‘s will be the last of the cars that will start today evening, in the rally’s opening [Power-Stage, for a change!] stage. His team-mate and another asphalt expert, Dani Sordo finished quickest through the Shakedown.
& Qatar M-Sport Ford Fiesta RS WRC
driver, Thierry Neuville
really wants to stop Sebastien Ogier
to claim his title right at the opening and point-scoring, Power-Stage. Although his intention is clear to keep the WRC
title contention alive as long as possible, it may be quite impossible as Polo WRC
driver just needs a single point to claim it.
If another two drivers manage to squeeze through the top 3 quickest to claim the rest of the two available points, then it may be possible
. [A slight correction here, If Neuville
cannot take maximum PS points, then Ogier
will be the champion – irrespective of any other wins by the Belgian.]
A good strategy [as it seems strongly to me] by the organisers to allow both the Seb’s to enjoy their lime-light, by Ogier taking it tonight with his 1 point deficit title, and later in the weekend to the retiring Loeb. Let us see what happens in a short while from now!
From the press-conference [wrc.com],
Ogier, on coping with the pressure of being so close to his maiden WRC title: “I think the chance is bigger than ever. It should happen, but there’s still a chance it won’t, so we still have to do a good job here. I feel quite relaxed now. There’s not so much pressure for the championship any more. I just want to get pleasure in the car and for me that means being fast and fighting for victory.”
Loeb, on finishing his WRC career on home ground: “It’s a nice story to finish here in France. That was decided at the beginning of the season. Now we are here the feeling is okay. There’s always a great atmosphere on this rally and there will be some emotion to be here for the last time. But on the other side I’ve been thinking for some time that one day I will have to stop rallying. I turned that page last year when I decided to finish my last season. This year I just drive some rallies like this to have fun and because we planned it with Citroen.”
Ogier, on the importance of winning the rally opening Power Stage: “I want to start the rally well, but I don’t need absolutely to win this stage. If Thierry can just accept not to be first then it’s okay! I don’t feel extra pressure to do well, especially as it’s in the city where it’s easy to make a stupid mistake. Of course I’m going to try and start well, with good pace, but I’m not going to be going flat out to try and win it.”
Loeb, on how long it will take him to get back up to speed: “The feeling I think in the car is not bad. The recce was okay, and so was the test. I just hope I will find the rhythm quite quickly and that I will be in the fight.”
Ogier, on how long it will take Loeb to get back up to speed: “Seb has missed a few races but I know that he is really able to come back immediately with a strong performance. He always did.”
Loeb, on his chances of winning in France this weekend: “If I’m in the situation where I can win, for sure I will try. That’s the same story here. On the other side, I’m not fighting for the championship. Sebastien will be the champion this year. I don’t need some points, I’m just here for fun, so if I’m not able to fight it’s not terrible, you know? In that case I will just take it as it is and have some fun.”
Ogier, on how he feels about Loeb’s retirement: “It’s difficult to say in a few words. There’s a lot to say. For sure [I have] a lot of good memories, even if everyone always tries to remember the fight and the difficult time we had. But, I mean, it was also something nice in the sport. Sometimes it was exciting with that. Whatever happens now I will forever have a lot of respect for him.”
Loeb, on Ogier’s performance this year: “He did a great season and he deserves his title. He was the fastest all the time and he had a good team. He’s put everything together this year to be competitive and on top immediately. There’s nothing more to say – he deserves to take the title this weekend.”