Belfast Telegraph

Champion Ogier linked to VW as Meeke link appears to cool

By Sammy Hamill

Could the Sebastien Ogier "where will he go" saga be about to take another twist? Will the four-time World rally champion end up driving a Volkswagen after all?

Speculation about the French star's future has been swirling around ever since Volkswagen suddenly announced they were pulling out of the World Rally Championship as a consequence of the spiralling costs of the "dieselgate" scandal in America.

He has been linked to moves to Toyota, to Ford and as a team-mate for Ulsterman Kris Meeke and Craig Breen at Citroen.

But the motorsport boss of the VW Group, Wolfgang Durheimer, has confirmed that the newly-developed 2017 WRC Polos could be handed over to a private team.

He stressed that the company would not be involved financially but members of the motorsport division could be sub-contracted to the private team.

It would, in other words, be the factory Volkswagen team under a new guise just as Citroen did in 2006 when Sebastien Loeb's World championship-winning Xsara was run by the Belgian Kronos team.

Nasser Al-Attiyah, the former World production champion and Dakar Rally winner, has expressed strong interest in setting up a team to run the cars with the likely backing of current Volkswagen sponsors Red Bull and a Qatari consortium.

It could be the perfect fit for Ogier - driving the car he has played a major part in developing and surrounded by the same team of engineers who helped him win four World titles. 

He says he has narrowed his options down to two choices but would not reveal what they are.

"My vision is becoming clearer now but I cannot guarantee that I will be at the start of Monte Carlo," he said.

"How can I be 100 per cent sure when I do not have a contract in my hand?

"I want the car with the best chance to win, I need this for my motivation. It's not about the money, it's about the potential."

Belfast Telegraph


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