What Sebastien Ogier 2017 deal means for the WRC and M-Sport

The World Rally Championship can, probably for the first time, genuinely relate to Wolverhampton Wanderers

What Sebastien Ogier 2017 deal means for the WRC and M-Sport

The English football side's motto is: out of darkness cometh light (giving rise, so it's said, their black and gold strip). Volkswagen's decision to depart the WRC cast the series into darkness last month.

Promoter-types, of course, talked about a natural and entirely normal commercial cycle of motorsport; manufacturers come and go - Volkswagen departed, Citroen and Toyota returned.

Behind closed doors, it was a disaster of monstrous proportions. Not least because it left four-time World Rally Champion Sebastien Ogier out of work: a champion driver with no drive isn't much use to any promoter.

That was the darkness. Then came the light.

Ogier joining M-Sport is a dream deal for the Cumbrian squad and for the WRC. What a storyline to have running through 2017.

Disastrous as Volkswagen's departure is, there's no doubt the absence of the Polo R WRC in an official capacity will open up the competition and nobody can deny the appetite for seeing Ogier in a new car facing up to Kris Meeke in a Citroen.

Ogier will arrive in Monte Carlo next month firmly on the back foot, with very little knowledge of the Ford and barely any testing in the French Alps. The slick-shod icy mountain roads are just about the worst possible place in the world to find out what a new car's really like in competition.

It's that kind of thing which has thrown the championship wide open.

But landing Ogier still puts M-Sport in its strongest position ever for a third - and possibly fourth - world championship title.

Malcolm Wilson's team has worked tirelessly to put together a stunning new car and the man himself has rewarded that effort with the ultimate driver.

Talking to Wilson after Ogier tested for him last month, the sense of enthusiasm for a deal and a shot to be right back at the top was overwhelming. In all the time I've known Wilson, only once had I seen that kind of deal determination before: when he tried to sign the other French Sebastien - Loeb - in 2005.

Things are different for Wilson these days. Undoubtedly there was excitement when Colin McRae was signed for 1999 or Carlos Sainz a couple of years later, but there was a chunk of Martini cash sloshing around, not to mention the odd million from Ford, back then.

There's none of that now. These deals are all done out of the Wilson wallet.

That said, Henry Ford III was in Cockermouth last week. Wilson laughed off talk of a Blue Oval return. But surely the prospect of Ogier in that Fiesta must be more tempting than ever for Ford.

Now that would be a blinding light coming out of the darkness.

shares
comments
Sebastien Ogier signs with M-Sport WRC team for 2017

Previous article

Sebastien Ogier signs with M-Sport WRC team for 2017

Next article

Incoming Toyota launches 2017 Yaris WRC, signs Latvala and Lappi

Incoming Toyota launches 2017 Yaris WRC, signs Latvala and Lappi
Load comments
How Finland’s newest rally hero made WRC history in Estonia Plus

How Finland’s newest rally hero made WRC history in Estonia

Kalle Rovanpera broke a decade-old record in becoming the World Rally Championship's youngest-ever winner in a truly dominant performance on Estonia's fast gravel roads. Staving off the challenge of Hyundai's Craig Breen, his committed drive showed a maturity beyond his 20 years that gives Toyota's post-Ogier era a far brighter complexion

WRC
Jul 19, 2021
How WRC's new Safari adventure ended with a familiar tale Plus

How WRC's new Safari adventure ended with a familiar tale

The World Rally Championship’s delayed return to the Safari Rally was always set throw up some surprises, but aside from a spirited showing by Thierry Neuville it became another painful event for Hyundai in 2021. Once again it was Sebastien Ogier who took full advantage as he completed a stunning comeback drive

WRC
Jun 28, 2021
Remembering Colin McRae’s final WRC win Plus

Remembering Colin McRae’s final WRC win

The Safari Rally returns to the World Rally Championship this weekend for the first time since 2002 - when crowd favourite Colin McRae set aside the maximum attack style for which he was renowned to deliver a textbook third win

WRC
Jun 23, 2021
How Hyundai's broken record gave Toyota a special Sardinia 1-2 Plus

How Hyundai's broken record gave Toyota a special Sardinia 1-2

For the second WRC gravel rally in a row, a promising Friday for Hyundai turned into desolation as Toyota gratefully picked up the pieces. This time it was championship leader Sebastien Ogier who took full advantage after Ott Tanak and Dani Sordo retired to score a memorable victory, having swept the road on the first two days

WRC
Jun 7, 2021
How Hyundai's latest self-destruction handed Evans Portugal victory Plus

How Hyundai's latest self-destruction handed Evans Portugal victory

At one point Hyundai held the top three positions in Portugal, but when trouble struck the Korean marque's two leading chargers, a grateful Elfyn Evans was on hand to see off Hyundai third man Dani Sordo and become the third different winner in four rallies

WRC
May 24, 2021
Why the success of AVB's WRC debut won't be defined on the stages Plus

Why the success of AVB's WRC debut won't be defined on the stages

Three years after a Dakar Rally crash resulted in him being airlifted to hospital, Andre Villas-Boas is preparing to make his debut on his home round of the World Rally Championship later this month. His goals for the event are modest, but the same cannot be said for the charities he plans to promote where his true impact could be felt

WRC
May 13, 2021
Why there's no easy fix for Hyundai's operational Achilles Heel Plus

Why there's no easy fix for Hyundai's operational Achilles Heel

Hyundai Motorsport boss Andrea Adamo was vocal in his criticism of his team's tyre choices on Rally Croatia and declared that he "had better move my ass and solve it". Doing so will be vital to getting Hyundai's 2021 WRC title hopes back on track, but finding the root of the problem won't be the work of a moment

WRC
Apr 28, 2021
How Ogier held on after a shock bump in the road to triumph in Croatia Plus

How Ogier held on after a shock bump in the road to triumph in Croatia

Sebastien Ogier was already in an incredibly tight fight at Rally Croatia before a surprise collision with public road traffic at the start of the final day. But the defending champion held his nerve to take a narrow victory and create further World Rally Championship history

WRC
Apr 26, 2021