As if having two young and very ambitious drivers in main line up wasn’t tricky enough, Volkswagen decided to add third one as well. Just reading these names out loud brings a smile on your face – Sebastien Ogier (he who challenged the great Sebastien Loeb on more than one occasion), Jari-Matti Latvala (fastest of the lot according to some people, but very prone to being too fast) and Andreas Mikkelsen (double IRC champion and the guy with no pressure on his shoulders in 2013).
In fact, when you look at Volkswagen’s line up, one thing comes to mind. These guys will have a mini in-house championship going on, no doubt. Put simply, we have one fast and furious diva, one fast and very eager to prove himself driver and one very talented youngster who could pull more than few surprises. And to top it all off, they’re guaranteed equal status, well, the Ogier and Latvala are.
According to Autosport article, Ogier was, of course (read this with mandatory French accent!), expecting some sort of priority over picking the numbers given how long he is with the team. Yes, he did spend entire 2012 rallying a Škoda Fabia S2000, but I belive he was also payed to do it, so it’s all part of the job, Seb. And of course, we know he would never do something like that, because immediately after being denied the priority to pick a number for his car, Ogier said he does not care about numbers and then finished it with: “I’ll put number 1 on my car!” It was Seb Ogier at his best, and we are so glad he is back.
Ultimately, there is no point in putting more pressure on individual drivers, especially in a new and still growing team. We saw how Jari-Matti Latvala handled his number 1 status in Ford, and it would be silly at best to put such pressure on either him or Ogier. Just because number 1 status is nice while you’re in the front, but once your team mates start catching up or even best you, problems arise.
This is not to say we won’t see some sparks flying within Volkswagen, in fact, we’re sort of expecting it. We need this kind of passion and dedication in WRC, today more than ever, as long as gentlemen can keep it civil and not damage the reputation of rallying I am fine with some furniture kicking. Colin McRae vs. Carlos Sainz style!
Link: Autosport.com article about Latvala and Ogier status in VW team