WRC: Sebastien Ogier on Jost Capito's departure...
World rally champion Sebastien Ogier paid respects to his team's outgoing team manager in public, when asked why he believed Jost Capito had been so special to Volkswagen Motorsport. "I think it was his passion for sport. When you have a boss who is working always with his heart for what he is doing, it is always an inspiration for the team. He was always fighting for team spirit. I don't know if he brought this to the team or if it was already there but he tried to keep it going this way. At least that's one of our team strength that the atmosphere in the team is really good. People are working really well together. What more can I say? I remember the first time we met at a test in 2012 in Spain. The team had just started developing the car and we discussed the target in the future. It was agreed publicly that we want to fight for stage wins in the first year, a victory in second year and title the third year. We both agreed we would fight as hard as we could to speed up the process. We were even faster than we were dreaming of, because a title came immediately in 2013". About the new Sporting Director, Sebastien added: "Really good. I've known Sven Smeets for a long time now. We were already together in Citroen team. And this doesn't really feel like a change because he was already in the team and I'm sure that brings continuity to what we have. I don't feel that it will be really different but for sure for him it is new responsibility. It will be interesting to see how he handle it all!"
Sebastien's struggle for a third successive world rally championship title has seen an unprecedented tale of unhappiness from the driver at the top of the championship tables. The reigning champion was not enjoying rallying as he should, on account of the famous running order rules. The topic was raised at the Volkswagen Fifty Year celebrations in Berlin when he quickly responded. "I would love to discuss that. Yes of course I think it (the rule) is not right. I think a lot of people realise that. I don't want to talk too much about it today because there is a meeting soon about it where hopefully a better solution is going to come out. It is a difficult question. There are many possible solutions. For me the only thing I wish is for fairness. As fair as possible. We all know that in rally you cannot have 100% similar conditions for everyone, it will always change car after car. But there is many possibilities to make it that it is not 80% of the time the same guy having the disadvantage. It will be a big gain for the championship if we skip this subject. All the time this subject is in the mind of everyone, it is impossible to avoid it. It is such a big influence on the performance and the result of everyone. We have no other chance than to speak about it when you talk about my performance. Everyone knew I have been (driving just as hard), and I've proved it when I had favourable conditions on every PowerStage and Sunday morning. So I just wish for something which is acceptable, as fair as possible. That's it. The sport will be for sure better. With more manufacturers coming, I guess more young drivers now have made good step and are able to fight on the front. There are now a lot of drivers able to win rallies in the WRC championship, which has not often been the case in history. Please next year I just wish that we could fight together with fair condition. For sure it will be more exciting (if the rules are changed) if instead of having two drivers fighting for the lead because they are running tenth or fifteenth on the road, we would have, say, four guys fighting for the lead at the front of the rally".
Ogier also entered the debate about the future calendar of the WRC, which currently shows no sign of changing despite pressure from the FIA and the WRC Promoter to introduce new events. It is a problem highlighted by the recent cancellation of the long promised return to China. He said "I think we should have some new events but also I think it is important to keep some history in the championship and include some historical events. Always difficult to say which events are the most important to keep but there are some often mentioned events are Monte Carlo, Sweden. GB, Finland, Portugal, maybe I forgot some. Events with a lot of history. It is always a compromise to select the ones you keep between the new ones. The trouble is I have not heard about new events which will come". The debate centres around not only new events but also the need for new stages on existing events. The process of gaining experience of new stages has greatly changed since the days of unlimited practice before events. "Corsica this year sounds exciting because there are a lot of new sections. We will all start with zero experience. That's real rallying, I would say. We are now living in the age of rally video. It is the new way for young drivers to discover new stages. I don't know at which point they will be able to learn the stages by heart but they learning a lot with this work. Rallying has never really been like this before. I like the idea of starting from zero and have to adapt to new conditions. Like with the starting order debate, I like things which are fair for everyone".