Incumbent world rally champion, Sébastien Ogier, has admitted he felt “mentally weak” for part of the 2014 season and said he had to call on all his strength to retain his crown.
Ogier beat VW team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala by 11.3s at the finish of RallyRACC-Rally de Espana yesterday to seal his second successive WRC title.
It was the Frenchman’s seventh victory of the season and gave him and co-driver Julien Ingrassia an unassailable 31-point lead in the series standings with only next month’s Wales Rally GB remaining.
Despite his joy at becoming only fourth driver since 1977 to retain a WRC title, Ogier admitted it had been a tough year and that he hadn’t always been at his best after getting distracted by talk of changes to the format of future rallies.
“I had some difficult moments this season. I was a bit weak mentally, I was too much disturbed by the future of the sport, and my motivation really went down,” he said. “When this happens, you are not performing at 100 per cent any more. Even if some people say it looks easy, it is never easy. If there is a small moment of distraction and you don’t fight as normal, then things start to go in the wrong direction.”
Ogier’s form took an alarming dip after June’s Rally Poland and scoring only 21 points on the next two events in Finland and Germany meant he and Ingrassia were in real danger of throwing away the 50-point lead they’d worked so hard to achieve by winning in Poland.
But Ogier managed to regain his focus when it mattered and he has credited his second successive championship title to the support he received from those around him.
The 23-time rally winner said: “The most important thing is that I reacted. A lot of people helped me with this, the team helped me, Jost (Capito, VW Motorsport team principal) helped me and my wife helped me a lot.
“I managed to focus on the present; I couldn’t lose what I had been working on from the beginning of season. It would have been stupid to lose it like that. I had to finish the job.”
Ogier’s win in Spain gave VW’s Polo R WRC its 11th victory of the season – a feat that ensured the German manufacturer equaled Citroen’s record for the most WRC wins in a single season.