Opinion

Opinion: How rallying is more than just sport for Sébastien Ogier

What does Sébastien Ogier have in common with Lewis Hamilton? Both are serial world champions, sure, but their lives intersect far beyond that.

They share a passion for the environment that seems at odds with the jobs they carry out to an extraordinarily successful degree. And, with both coming towards the end of their racing careers, they’re carrying that cause forward in what they do next.

The new Extreme E series for electric off-road vehicles is something that they’re both involved in: Hamilton as the owner of a team (called X44) and Ogier as a brand ambassador and driver.

In fact, Ogier’s plan was to drive in the championship’s inaugural season next year, but that has been put on hold because of his decision to do one more year of the World Rally Championship, having previously said 2020 would be his final season. But this has been a year unlike any other, overshadowed by the coronavirus pandemic. So a farewell tour beckons to wrap things up in a neater, happier way, then some Extreme E and other motorsport.

“I’d love to stay involved with Toyota, perhaps also in the World Endurance programme,” said Ogier. And one of the attractions for both championships is that they point the way to a more sustainable motoring future.

“This is something I’ve been thinking about more,” the Frenchman continued. “I come from the mountains, a place I love, and every year I see that the snow there is less. So I think, if you can, you have to try to find a better way.

“All the alternative energies are interesting. It’s a shame that rallying is actually a little bit behind in this respect compared to other motorsports.”

There will be electrified WRC cars in 2022 (by when Ogier will be a spectator), but only mild hybrids. The dynamics of rally cars and events are still too untrammelled to make a purely electric car properly work – for now.

In the future, who knows? “It’s clear the world is going in this direction,” said Ogier of the increasing opposition to the traditional internal combustion engine. “And I think Lewis is right to talk openly about these issues. We should all try to do something.”

Devoted family man Ogier has posted enthusiastically on social media about Extreme E’s partnership with Unicef, the children’s organisation. For him, “a better future” doesn’t just mean adding next year’s world title to his collection.

Anthony Peacock

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