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Riding with Ogier

2 years ago

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Henry Catchpole | Journalist


26 November 2021

For a moment I think I must have dropped into a parallel universe. This doesn’t happen in the dimension that I know. It’s wet and the car is pirouetting pretty much in its own length. That’s the normal bit. But then the man next to me unwinds the steering lock and attempts to finish the showy spin with the car pointing up the hill. Now, this Frenchman doesn’t usually merely attempt things, he just does them. But on this occasion he attempts…and fails.

Admittedly the tarmac has all the grip of a soapy shower tray, but nevertheless the car continues to spin like a wheel of fortune heading past the intended jackpot. The champ is quick on the handbrake, steering and throttle, reigniting the rotation and kicking the car round another 270 degrees anticlockwise to put it back on track. From the outside I doubt many of those peering at the bright red Citroen from under their dripping umbrellas noticed the extra gyration, let alone cared. But in the car we both know that Sébastien Ogier has made that most uncharacteristic of things: a mistake.

That was 2019, midway through his annus horribilis at Citroën (he only finished third in the World Rally Championship – can you imagine? The shame!) and we were at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Last weekend he retired from full-time participation in the WRC having sealed his eighth drivers’ title in nine years with victory at Rally Monza. Once again, imperious. In fact I think it would be easier to imagine Ogier plotting his way to the laurels of Caesar rather than the laurels of another WRC championship.

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