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Ogier may miss remainder of WEC season after Le Mans debut

Sebastien Ogier has revealed he doesn’t plan to contest the remaining rounds of the World Endurance Championship season following his Le Mans 24 Hours debut.

#1 Richard Mille Racing Team Oreca 07 - Gibson LMP2 of Sébastien Ogier

Eight-time World Rally champion Ogier finished ninth in the LMP2 class in his first outing at the famed Circuit de la Sarthe with the Richard Mille Racing team, sharing the cockpit of the team’s #1 ORECA 07-Gibson with compatriots Charles Milesi and Lilou Wadoux.

As part of his move to endurance racing for 2022, it was announced that Ogier would participate in a full season in the WEC alongside Milesi and Wadoux, with the trio racing for the Signatech-run team at Sebring and Spa ahead of Le Mans.

However, speaking after his Le Mans debut, Ogier revealed that it was never his intention to complete the full WEC schedule, which continues at Monza next month before concluding with a trip to Fuji Speedway in September and the Bahrain season finale in November.

“Even though it was announced differently, we were always clear with the team that I would just do Le Mans and the two previous races to prepare for it,” said Ogier. “I didn’t want to do the full championship.

“I had more of an interest in doing some more rallies, but adding five or six WEC races didn’t really fit with my desire  to slow down. So there is a good chance [the season] ends here.

“We still need to discuss it with the team, but it was not planned [to do the full season] beforehand.”

#1 Richard Mille Racing Team Oreca 07 - Gibson LMP2 of Lilou Wadoux, Sébastien Ogier, Charles Milesi

#1 Richard Mille Racing Team Oreca 07 - Gibson LMP2 of Lilou Wadoux, Sébastien Ogier, Charles Milesi

Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images

The Richard Mille car was in the mix for a top six in the early part of the race, but lost ground on Saturday evening when Ogier was handed a stop-and-go penalty for forcing another car off the track while entering the pits.

But that was the only major drama the team experienced, leaving Ogier satisfied with the end result of ninth in class and three laps down on the LMP2 class-winning JOTA entry.

“In this first start I learned a lot and discovered many things,” said Ogier. “I’m also happy to have overcome many hurdles during these 24 hours. 

“In the end, there was just this unfortunate error entering the pits, and without that it would have been 100% mission complete. It wasn’t a big mistake, even though it cost us about 1m30s, but when we see everything that happened, to get a top 10 when there are 27 cars at the start, and in probably the toughest category at the moment, it’s clearly an honourable result and a reward for all the effort we made.”

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Ogier has made clear his ambitions to potentially contest the top Hypercar class at Le Mans, having already tested the Toyota GR010 Hybrid on multiple occasions.

The Frenchman suggested he was expecting to hear soon whether the Japanese manufacturer plans to field an additional third car next year, a decision on which his hopes of racing in the top class in 2023 appear to rest.

“I’m sure I improved my pace, but also when it comes to traffic management and getting to know the track,” said Ogier. “If I come back I’m sure I can keep improving even faster while making other steps.

“I’ve been bitten by the bug. I want only one thing, which is to come back!”

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