World Rally Championship

Citroen drop Ogier for Hirvonen

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    Citroen have confirmed Sebastien Ogier will leave the team and be replaced by Mikko Hirvonen:

    Citroen don’t want to upset Loeb so they’ve got rid of his team mate who caused him a few headaches this year.

    And Hirvonen is apparently happy to kowtow as Loeb’s number two, presumably hoping he’ll hang up his helmet in a few years time.

    Can’t say I’m particularly impressed with either party. Wonder where Ogier will end up?

    Ned Flanders

    Exciting news! I wasn’t really expecing it, but I suppose it should hardly be a surprise given how little support Citroen were giving to Ogier.

    Ogier is supposed to be off to Ford now, and it’ll be fascinating to see him up against Latvala. Then again, if the deal hasn’t been signed maybe Volkswagon could tempt him with a big money offer?

    Either way, looking at the long run surely the big loser in this is Citroen. As long as Loeb is around they’ll be fine, but maybe he won’t be around for more than a year or two more. Ogier was surely the man to guarantee them continued success in the future- I certainly don’t think Hirvonen can guarantee that, and besides he’s no spring chicken himself


    Wasn’t Ogier meant to be the next big thing?


    Wow, thats a shock really. How will Mikko handle being in the same team as Loeb remains to be seen.


    Maybe Ogiers friend taking Leob out of the last rally, on the public road, was the last straw. :D

    Seriously, I am surprised.
    But then 8 years of dominance by Loeb, I guess you have to take the opportunity of at least having the same equipment to try and beat Loeb. I don’t blame Hirvonen for trying.
    But really a number 2 driver to Loeb? Do they really exist in WRC?
    Unless its the final stage and it would be a Citroen 1-2 result anyway, I can’t see them asking Hirvonen to pull over for Loeb.
    I’d be annoyed if they did.

    Unless a number 2 driver gets 2nd dibs at any spares mid rally?


    I can’t see them asking Hirvonen to pull over for Loeb.

    I can.


    What if Hirvonen doesn’t comply? Would Citroen drop him after the season starts?
    You can’t rely on anything in WRC. There are too many risks to not have both drivers doing well. It only takes a DNF to put your championship into difficulty, if your main opponent is consistent.

    What if both drivers can win the title in the final rally and Loeb was leading the standings, would they ask Hirvonen to back off? Well they can ask, but what right minded rally driver would?

    Maybe Citroen are just going to assume that Loeb will beat Hirvonen well enough to not have to make these decisions. For one thing Hirvonen should be more consistent than Ogier on past form. But, I reckon Citroen are in for a shock. Hirvonen has a real shot now to get his WRC title.


    @keith-collantine Wonder where Ogier will end up? – It’s expected for him to be confirmed at Ford. I’m not so sure whether Citroen dropped Ogier or it was the other way around. I think he got fed up with his No 2 status and decided to leave. He was initially contracted until 2013 so I don’t think their parting was all smooth. Anyways next season ought to be very interesting with Mikkon and Loeb at Citroen and Ogier and Latvala at Ford, and also Mini that looked pretty strong for their debut season.


    I don’t like this news at all. I’ve grown fond of Ogier.


    Am I the only person that is quietly optimistic about this being the start of an amazing era of WRC? The two top drivers in the fastest car; two unbelievably quick but crash-happy young guns in a car which isn’t so far off and MINI, who look to be getting on the pace of Citroen and Ford. Oh, and Volkswagen will be involved from 2013. This could, and should, be epic. If it isn’t; then WRC is doing something seriously wrong.

    Prisoner Monkeys

    Can’t say I’m particularly impressed with either party.

    I think it’s a mistake by Hirvonen. If he wants a World Championship, he’s not going to get one at Citroen while Loeb is still there because he simply won’t be allowed to. He’s become the Irvine/Barrichello/Massa of the WRC.

    It would have been a much, much smarter move by Citroen to try and pick up a promising talent – someone who is fast, and will one day win championships, but won’t be an immediate threat to Loeb’s position. Mads Ostberg, Ott Tanak and Dennis Kuipers would all be good choices. But then, I suppose they did that with Ogier and he threatened Loeb in his first full season with the Citroen works team.

    I can understand a team favouring a driver halfway through a season, particularly based on their results to date. But Citroen favour Loeb from the outset, and whoever teams up with him is expected to support him from the shakedown of the first rally to the power stage of the final round. And it’s not like McLaren, where everyone assumed Jenson Button would get thrashed by Hamilton – this is Citroen’s policy.

    I hope Sebastien Ogier ends up Hirvonen’s seat alongside Latvala. That’s a team I can support.

    Ned Flanders

    PM- I think what you say is generally correct, but you shouldn’t forget the fact that Loeb is getting on a bit, and Hirvonen must have considered that he could be the lead driver at Citroen as early as 2013. Maybe he’s looking at the bigger picture here

    Prisoner Monkeys

    As opposed to already being team leader at Ford?

    Maybe he sees the DS3 as being more competitive, but he was a title contender in the Fiesta simply by finishing rallies.

    Perhaps Citroen have learned from the Ogier incidents that holding their second driver back, and Hirvonen will have more freedom within the team.

    Maybe Citroen didn’t drop Ogier; rather, Ogier dropped Citroen after the way he was treated. I could see VW jumping at the chance to run a driver like Ogier at selected events in 2012 for their development program, with Ogier driving a customer Citroen at every other round (as part of a severance package from Citroen). Ogier could then spearhead VW’s 2013 campaign.

    But I’m still doubtful.


    I remember this time last year, when Ogier’s contract was up for renewal. There was an article that came out saying Loeb advised Ogier to go to Ford instead of staying at Citroen. However, Ogier decided to stay. I guess he was warned. ;)

    Seriously, though, this MUST be a seat swap. I don’t see how Ogier can’t end up in that lead Ford car now.

    Prisoner Monkeys

    I don’t know, @journeyer – the John Cooper Works Mini WRC is a pretty competitive package, even with Sordo and Meeke (who, while good, are not top-tier drivers). Since they’re planning a full WRC campaign in 2012, I would not be surprised if Dave Richards made Ogier an offer. Especially since some of Malcolm Wilson’s comments about Hirvonen’s departure suggest that Ford might pull factory funding, and instead just run privateer Fiestas. If that’s the case, Mini is probably the closest thing to a factory drive that Ogier could hope for.

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