Eight-time world champion Sebastien Ogier is currently battling in WRC Rally Portugal, dropping off the top after suffering tyre problems in his bit-part season that should also bring him to Kenya for the June 23-26 WRC Safari Rally.
Part Two of the interview:
EM: It’s good for the Kenyan fans to hear it from you: The safety aspects of the hybrid. Kenyans are very quick to help and whenever there is an accident, you’ll find people rushing to the car. And we are trying to sensitize them about the dangers of going to the hybrid when the light is red. Perhaps you can give advice to the spectators?
SO: Yeah, of course. It is always very exciting to be close to the race car, and I know that…
Yeah, people want to help us when we are in trouble sometimes, but please, this is a serious danger!
So stay away from the car when you see any lights turned on in the car.
Generally, we don’t need any help. That will be the best way to put it.
Please enjoy the show from some distance.
I’m sure that people are gonna love to see this new hybrid car which is spectacular and with even extra power.
But please stay away from the red light. That’s the easy message!
(The red light in the hybrid car that runs on fuel and electric energy means it is not safe to touch as it could cause an electric shock)
EM: As you retire, I know you will be spending a lot of family time, but we are we going to see you consulting or still getting back into the sport?
SO: At the moment, you know, I think I’m still young enough to think about some driving still.
My decision to retire was really to have more time for my family and to see my son, which is really my number one priority in life, to see him growing and enjoy all this time together.
I have the chance with Toyota to still compete in some rallies and also try a new experience and some racing on tracks and testing with the Toyota GR010
I’m very happy with this situation right now but the future is a little bit unclear.
I don’t have real plans for next year, but right now let’s say I enjoy this mix of adrenaline, still racing and free time at home. So let’s see what the future brings.
EM: Are you considering coming on safari to Kenya with your family, just chilling out and having a look at the animals? Is that in your bucket list?
SO: That is something I need to do for sure.
I probably maybe not do it together with the rally, because when I’m in the rally I’m so busy that I don’t really have time, you know, to see my family.
So I think for sure it’s in my bucket list to come and and to see this amazing nature that you have.
You know that I’m sensitive to that and probably I will try to also offer some help in any form I can this year again, because that’s something important in my eyes.
We need to take care of our planet and animals, and you have the chance to have these beautiful things in your country. So yeah, I hope I can.
I could come again this year and I’m looking forward to it.
And finally, because of the little time we have this time, how important has (retired navigator) Julian (Ingrassia) been in your career and your general support system at Toyota?
SO: Julian has been crucial to my career.
You know, we had the chance to meet one another in the very early days and he progressed along my side at the same time as I was progressing as a driver.
I think you know he made his own reputation as well. He’s definitely one of the best co-drivers out there and he’s always putting a lot of effort into preparations.
He pays a lot of attention in every detail, like I’m doing also on my side as a driver.
No one knows what would have been of my career without him, so I always put a lot of credit to him, to be honest, because he really deserves it.
We are still in contact and we are still friends and even if our lives have taken two different directions now.
We love racing and I’m sure you will probably see him around because he wants to still stay involved with the sport.
EM: A word to your fans in Kenya?
SO: Yeah, you know even if we are a year later now, I want to say again thank you very much for the amazing support we got last year.
I hope we can see each other soon again, in the rally coming soon. Like I said before, I hope I can be part of it.
But in any case, enjoy the show, stay away from the red light one more time and, yeah, I wish you all the best!
EM: Sorry, a very final question: Kenya’s McRae Kimathi is in the Junior WRC programme. Your thoughts about him and the Rally Star programme by the FIA that’s encouraging the young drivers to come through?
SO: It’s good to see this support taking place because you know, personally I had also the chance to start with the Junior Championship and that’s the best way to to get an opportunity into the sport.
So it is also great for Kenya. Obviously there was no Kenyan driver for very long time in the championship, so I think it is a great opportunity and, of course, a big challenge.
I have never met him (Kimathi) yet, but probably I will get a chance to meet him at some point and maybe give him some little advice for his future.
EM: Thank you! In Kenya, we say, asante sana. Merci beaucoup and hope to see you in Kenya soon!
SO: Asante sana! Thank you! Arigato! Bye bye.