COFFS HARBOUR, Australia - M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia secured their sixth FIA World Rally Championship for Drivers and Co-drivers this weekend – coming out on top after a dramatic final-day showdown at Kennards Hire Rally Australia.
This year’s championship has been the most exciting in years, but Ogier, Ingrassia and M-Sport Ford produced something special once again – speed, determination and outstanding team spirit all contributing to another very successful year for the Cumbrian squad.
Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“It’s been an emotional day and I can tell you that this championship really does mean a lot. Two months ago it wasn’t looking good, but when you have Sébastien and Julien in your team you know that anything is possible.
“The way they fought back over the last three events was incredible and I am so proud of all we have achieved together. We will certainly miss them next year, but this was a proper team effort and I have to say that every single member of the team played their part in the result.
“I would also like to congratulate Ott and Thierry on such a fantastic championship battle over the course of the season. We know first-hand how competitive they are and it really was a pleasure to watch the world’s three best drivers do battle right down to the wire.
“The sport is in fantastic shape at the moment, and I think everyone involved should be proud.”
Global Director of Ford Performance Motorsport, Mark Rushbrook, said:
“Huge congratulations to Sébastien and Julien on winning a remarkable sixth FIA World Rally Championship title – they’re second in the fantastic Ford Fiesta WRC. This achievement was the result of a great team effort throughout the whole season and everyone at both M-Sport and Ford should be immensely proud.”
Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia headed into the final day of competition knowing that six was the magic number – a sixth place finish all they needed to claim a sixth successive FIA World Rally Championship.
Doing what they needed to do in a sensational fight that went down to the wire, the pressure was on Ogier’s rivals and, one by one, Thierry Neuville and Ott Tänak hit trouble – each caught out whilst refusing to give up the fight and pushing admirably through the treacherous conditions.
That meant only one thing, Ogier and Ingrassia had done it – defending the crown they secured with the Ford Fiesta WRC 12 months previous. The result was the perfect way for the team to say farewell to their champions after two very special years together.
SS19: 6th (+14.3)
SS20: 7th (+5.9)
SS21: 7th (+4.0)
S22: 9th (+17.8)
SS23: 6th (+31.4)
Sébastien Ogier said:
“It’s been an incredible season and the fight has been so close. Not so long ago we thought it was going to be difficult to take the title again, but we never gave up. We gave it everything and had such an amazing team around us. I am so proud of all of them and of course I want to thank Malcolm for another amazing job. What we achieved together over the past two years has been really special, and I am very proud of that.”
Julien Ingrassia said:
“We had a beautiful journey with M-Sport over these two years, and everything we achieved we achieved together. We wanted to end our time with Malcolm and the team in a special way, and that is what we did. There have been a lot of ups and downs during the season and the rally, and we gave it everything to achieve this amazing result. Hopefully I have a little energy left to celebrate with the team tonight!”
Elfyn Evans and Daniel Barritt have been rightly heralded ‘team mates of the year’ – playing a significant role as Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia defended their FIA World Rally Championships today.
The Brits played their part selflessly this weekend – handed the Frenchmen a more advantageous road position at detriment to themselves, and showing good speed despite the looser conditions they had to contend with as a result.
When road cleaning wasn’t a contributing factor, Evans showed his pace and set a string of top times through the super special stages.
It’s not been the season the Welshman had hoped for, but he has shown his speed and played his role admirably – helping the team defend two of their FIA World Rally Championships.
SS19: 7th (+18.0)
SS20: 5th (+3.7)
SS21: 8th (+4.2)
SS22: 8th (+17.2)
SS23: 8th (+41.8)
SS24: 4th (+3.0)
Elfyn Evans said:
“Congratulations to Seb, Julien and the whole team. I’m glad they were able to secure this one and – even though it wasn’t always easy – I’m glad we were able to help them where we could. Obviously for various reasons our season didn’t go the way we wanted it to, but the speed was there and hopefully we’ll have a chance to prove that again next year.”
Teemu Suninen and Mikko Markkula may have been experiencing the unique nature of the Australia stages for the first time this weekend, but that didn’t stop them showcasing their speed and team spirit – missing out on a stage win by just 0.1 seconds on Friday before playing the team game to give Ogier a more advantageous road position.
The young Finn continued to gain vital knowledge and experience in a variety of different conditions over the weekend’s competition, but was forced to retire with impact damage after the penultimate speed test.
SS19: 11th (+26.2)
SS20: 10th (+25.7)
SS21: 9th (+7.0)
SS22: 5th (+6.4)
SS23: 5th (+30.7)
Teemu Suninen said:
“It was a shame not to have finished this rally, but I am really happy for the team and for Seb and Julien who really deserved this Championship. Everyone has worked really hard and it’s nice to see this result for them.
“For me, I think I showed some good improvement this weekend and was able to set some good times on Friday. On the weekend I learnt a lot about how to drive in the loose gravel, and I’m looking forward to next year when I can build on everything I learnt this season.”
1. Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) 2:59:52.0
2. Hayden Paddon / Sebastian Marshall (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +32.5
3. Mads Østberg / Torstein Eriksen (Citroen C3 WRC) +52.2
4. Esapekka Lappi / Janne Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1:02.3
5. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) +2:30.8
6. Elfyn Evans / Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) +3:05.1
7. Craig Breen / Scott Martin (Citroen C3 WRC) +8:59.0
1. Sébastien Ogier - 219
2. Thierry Neuville - 201
3. Ott Tänak - 181
4. Jari-Matti Latvala - 128
5. Esapekka Lappi - 126
6. Andreas Mikkelsen - 84
7. Elfyn Evans - 80
8. Hayden Paddon - 73
9. Dani Sordo - 71
10. Mads Østberg - 70
12. Teemu Suninen - 54
1. Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC - 368
2. Hyundai Motorsport - 341
3. M-Sport Ford World Rally Team - 324
4. Citroen Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team - 237