What you need to know:
- Winning the Safari Rally will always stay special in my heart: rally ace opens up
Sebastien Ogier, an eight-time world rally champion who won last year’s WRC Safari Rally, spoke exclusively to Nation Media Group’s Managing Editor for Sports, Elias Makori, on various issues, including his love for Kenya, the Safari Rally, family and retirement plans
Multiple world champions Sebastien Loeb and Sebastien Ogier could come head-on once again next month at the WRC Safari Rally after their teams -- Ford and Toyota – entered their names for the Kenyan round of the FIA World Rally Championship.
Nine-time world champion Loeb has been entered to drive the Ford Puma Hybrid for Great Britain’s M-Sport Ford Team with lady navigator Isabelle Galmiche in the cockpit, while fellow Frenchman Ogier will tackle the Safari for Japan’s Toyota Gazoo Racing in a Toyota Yaris Hybrid.
So far, almost 30 drivers have been entered for the June 23 to 26 WRC Safari Rally ahead of the May 25 deadline for entries.
Both Loeb and Ogier are in action this weekend in Rally Portugal, their second competition this year after the season-opening Monte Carlo Rally in January.
Nation Sport caught up with him, and here is Part One of the interview:
EM: Seb, I’ve watched your upcoming documentary “Final Season” and I must say I like it!
SO: You have watched it?
EM: Yeah, and I'll watch it again. I don't know how many times over and over again… It's brilliant and, well done! I just wanted to know your decision behind it, what you think about it, and yeah, just your general feeling about it yourself?
SO: To be honest, I think I'm proud to have it.
Personally, I love to watch documentaries of other champions, all the sportsmen.
I think it's always something inspiring, something to learn and I love sports in general.
So I think it's nice for rally that Red Bull has decided to make this (documentary) with me and also to follow my last season.
Of course the scenario is also perfect because that last season ended up to be a last title I won so that's special. That's great for the documentation.
So yeah, I like it and I think it's nice even for people who didn't know me and it's a chance to really know my whole career from the beginning up to the end.
So yeah, it's a nice job. I'm happy you like it.
EM: Yeah, I enjoyed it. Especially also, of course the Safari Rally bit… You mentioned the animal trophy you received (after winning the Safari Rally) and the Masai people around you. How was that feeling? Can you describe how you felt being around the Masai and getting this special trophy in Kenya?
SO: This victory (in Kenya) will always stay in a special place in my heart, because it was a unique experience.
It was my first time in Kenya… first time in Africa, in general… so I really enjoyed the experience.
I was impressed by the atmosphere there and the very warm welcome we got from the local fans, so yeah, for sure, the return of the Safari Rally was really a success for the championship.
I believe this because, generally, I think everybody enjoyed being there.
EM: And of course it was a very difficult time with Covid-19 and no spectators allowed, but still thousands of people lined up to watch. This year will be different as spectators are allowed and we expect about 19 spectator stages so, definitely there will be a much bigger and atmosphere. I don't know your thoughts about that, and information we are getting that we could see again in Kenya?
SO: Yeah, I mean, to be honest, for sure to have a race with the fans close to us is always better.
So that's really good news that the public can join again this year.
Yeah, it's true that most the people we saw (at last year’s Safari Rally) were on the road (transport) section only, but still it was amazing.
So I believe this year, if people are also closer and watch the action, it will make it even more special.
At the moment I'm not able to confirm that I'm going to compete in Kenya but what I can say is, and you understand it, that I really liked being in Kenya last year.
So, of course, it's something which I would like to do again this year.
This week, you know, we are running Rally Portugal and it (Safari Rally entry) is something we need to confirm with the team.
But anyway, pretty soon the news should be out because its a bit more than a month and then Safari Rally Kenya will be here!
In the Saturday Nation: Defending world champion Sebastien Ogier talks about the Hybrid rally car, family time and his post-retirement time.