It may have come as a shock to many, but Sebastien Ogier’s decision to sign with Citroen for the 2019 World Rally Championship is perhaps no real surprise. Any driver in the sport is now compared to the so-called ‘greatest of all time’ – Sebastien Loeb – who won nine WRC titles on the trot from 2004 until 2012. That Ogier has won five in a row since then makes him the next best, but you sense he feels it isn’t just the number of titles that will define his career. As good as he was, the question mark (if there is one) on Loeb’s magnificent career is that he only ever drove for one manufacturer. He never tested the water outside France to see if he could make another make of car just as fast.
Walter Rohrl did. Carlos Sainz did. Juha Kankkunen did.
And so too has Sebastien Ogier, already with Volkswagen and Ford, so why not with Citroen as well? As it stands, only Kankkunen has done it with three manufacturers: Peugeot, Lancia and Toyota. "I really like the idea of working again with people with whom things went pretty well a few years back, and I'm also excited by the chance to try and pull off the challenge of becoming world champion with a third different manufacturer,” Ogier said. "And, although I'm not taking anything for granted, I am convinced that the car has definite potential and I have great faith in the people (at Citroen)."
So, would winning the championship with Citroen – his sixth title – elevate Ogier to a higher level than Loeb? Or does nine-straight make Seb #1 untouchable?
It’s a question that probably has no definitive answer, but rally fans the world over will debate it for years to come. You get the feeling, however, that Ogier already believes he’s overtaken the “king”, and that the move to Citroen will only strengthen that belief. For now though, he’s got a more pressing fight on his hands – the fight for the 2018 World Rally Championship, and to prove that he still has the measure of Thierry Neuville and Ott Tanak. On recent form that’s a question with a less definitive answer, and the Frenchman will be eager to set the record straight.  

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