Ogier has become something of an FIA World Rally Championship legend, having won eight titles in the last decade. But the Frenchman’s reign ended on Sunday when he retired for Toyota Gazoo Racing team-mate Kalle Rovanperä.
Rovanperä sealed the deal after winning round 11 in Auckland, becoming the youngest rider in the sport’s history to lift the crown at the age of 22 years and one day.
With Ogier now doing a part-time program at a GR Yaris while he focuses on maintaining work-life balance, it’s unlikely he’ll ever win a world championship again. However, the Frenchman had no bad feelings as he praised his colleague’s success.
“It’s hard to find the words,” said Ogier. “It is definitely incredible what he has achieved. I mean 22 years old – I think it’s going to be a long time before that record is broken.
“Kalle is like Kimi reincarnated [Räikkönen] in rallying maybe – how completely cold-blooded and sometimes he has no emotions! But I hope he has [emotions] today because he should enjoy this moment.
“It’s been an impressive season and in difficult conditions this weekend he’s proven once again that he’s a very worthy champion. Congratulations to him and of course to the whole team, because we win and lose together.”
Ogier played a key role in Rovanperä’s title bid as he held off the Finn’s next title challenger, Ott Tänak, and secured a 2-1 win over Yaris Down Under.
The 38-year-old savored the chance to be back on Kiwi gravel after the rally’s 10-year hiatus and was proud of his performance after a few months without a seat.
“It was a very good comeback, I would say,” he smiled. “I enjoyed the weekend. The stages were very nice, I enjoyed sitting in the car and I can also be satisfied with my rhythm.
“It was a difficult rally with some high speed sections and a lot of rain so it’s not too bad to be at the pace we’ve had after three months without competition.”