The Frenchman goes into Rally Australia seeking to clinch the World Rally drivers’ crown.
France’s continued domination of the World Rally Championship will be assured when – not if, surely – Sebastien Ogier follows Sebastien Loeb’s nine straight titles with a first championship of his own and we reckon it will come his way in Australia.
Ogier and his new VW team have generally been in a league of their own in 2013 with their Polo R. Here are some numbers that outline Ogier’s meteoric rise to the top.
12: the number of points Ogier needs to extend his championship lead by in Australia to be sure of the crown ‘down under’. That would put him 85 clear of the opposition with only 84 available from the calendar’s last three rounds in France, Spain and Great Britain.
28: the maximum points score available in Australia (25 for winning the rally; a bonus 3 for winning the event-closing Power Stage). Ogier has won six of the eight power stages held so far in 2013 and on four occasions he’s managed ‘the double’. Should he achieve this in Australia then only Thierry Neuville would still have any chance of beating him to the title – providing, that is, the Belgian is second in Australia and second fastest on its Power Stage.
67: the number of WRC rallies that Ogier has contested. It all started back on Rally GB in November 2008 when, on his debut in a works supported Citroen, he out-ran everyone, Seb Loeb included, to lead after the opening few stages.
12: the number of rally wins in the WRC achieved to date by Ogier – that’s equivalent to a win every five and a bit rallies. Astonishing. He’s still outside the top ten on the all-time wins’ chart (tenth is Miki Biasion on 17), but in the five years since his WRC debut (bear in mind as well that he effectively missed 2012) Ogier is already half-way to matching four-times champ Tommi Makinen (fifth overall on 24 wins).
21: the number of podium results Ogier has achieved in those 67 WRC events. So that’s like a top-three finish in just about every three rallies. Again, astonishing at this level.
5: the number of wins he’s managed out of the nine rounds so far in 2013 – that’s a more than 50 per cent success rate.
65: the number of fastest stage times set by Ogier out of 156 held so far in 2013.
STOP PRESS: Ogier’s team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen led a WRC event for the first time after Rally Australia’s opening two stages on Thursday evening – each a short sprint around the 1.6km Coffs Harbour test (close to the New South Wales coastal city which is hosting the event).
Kris Meeke held second place, just 0.9 seconds behind in his Citroen ahead of Latvala and Ogier. The serious stuff gets under way with eight stages on Friday with a further 12 to follow on Saturday and Sunday (six each day). Saturday’s action includes two runs through one of the longest stages of the season, the 50km Nambucca stage.