Oh those people, how I wish I could understand them. “Never liked Ogier”, they’ll say, setting up new wallpaper showing Sebastien Loeb taking his billionth WRC win on their desktop. “He is just too dominant it’s boring and he’s not even that fast. Put anyone in that Volkswagen of his and they would be champions too. Volkswagen wins everything by throwing money at it long and hard enough until results, wins and titles emerge from it. But I actually dislike Ogier, never liked him much.”
To their limited understanding of the sport, Volkswagen is so victorious simply because of all the money they’ve spent. At the same time, Ogier is just that fast and full of wins because he is driving for said Volkswagen. Drive for the richest team and you win everything, arguments included. I am not saying those people aren’t enthusiastic about the sport, but they’re missing so many details it hurts.
It would not take much effort to see right through their illusion, though. They wouldn’t even need to leave the house to do it, just check two other Volkswagen drivers. Or at least Jari-Matti Latvala, because as rich as they are, Volkswagen still came to Monte Carlo with just two cars built to 2015 specifications. So we have Jari-Matti driving for the same richest team as Ogier. Yet, there is a slight difference in amount of wins and titles between those two. Let’s cut Latvala some slack and say Ogier had more in-car time, being involved in the development of the Polo from the very start. Still, just by being part of the richest team does not, apparently, make Jari-Matti Latvala or Anderas Mikkelsen instant champions nor do we see WRC podiums split between Volkswagen crews separated by fractions of a second. There’s something else at play here, I reckon. Could it be that maybe, and I know it will just sound weird but hear me out, maybe Ogier also has some actual skills? Yeah, I know, but some people will just refuse it. Nope, all down to Volkswagen and their cash, they say.
There are also others who will happily accept that yes Ogier might know a thing or two about driving, but that does not make him champion, nor would he be able to achieve such results driving anything less than the Car Belonging to the Richest Team Ever, of course. The combination of cash and some skill and voila; stage wins, rally wins, titles start raining from the sky. And he isn’t even trying hard. No, because Volkswagen is so rich their cars are that much easier to drive. It’s insane.
This strange atmosphere of Volkswagen and Ogier being oh so unbeatable is, well, strange. If you are not careful, you can end up accepting these weird conclusions as facts and next thing you’ll know you’ll hear yourself using them as an excuse. “Oh, yeah, my Favourite Driver Who Isn’t Ogier tried 300% but it simply wasn’t possible in his Other Team car, you cannot beat Volkswagen and Ogier.”
Except you can. Ogier isn’t unbeatable, Loeb wasn’t unbeatable either and to even suggest anyone really is unbeatable is quite silly. There are just drivers who are ahead, through no fault of their own, and nobody in their generation is able to compete with them. The stupid “but his car is faster” argument can be buried with one direct hit in the nuts “then why isn’t his teammate winning just as many events?”.
But surely it will take world’s latest WRC technology and biggest, most organized and experienced teams to beat Ogier and Volkswagen, even if only on one stage, they’ll say. There is no chance a small, private team using a 2014 car put together to something resembling 2015 spec and driver with 2 to 3 years of WRC experience could ever dream of challenging Ogier. Well, guess what, Robert Kubica did just that. Sure he crashed like a bloody newb later on, but on special stage 10 (is this onboard available on WRC+ already?) and 11 Kubica and his little team destroyed Seb Ogier and Volkswagen. And I’d argue that was before Ogier had the luxury of switching to safe mode, preserving the position without too many risks.
No, Ogier and Volkswagen are not unbeatable. He/they is/are simply still waiting for someone to step up and become his own little Ogier, which the real Ogier did so well when he started pushing The Great Loeb around during Citroën years.