There has been great speculation about the world champion’s future plans since his Volkswagen team announced earlier this month that it would quit the WRC at the end of the season.
The sudden availability of Ogier and team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen sent a shockwave through the 2017 driver market – putting in doubt some team selections that were almost complete.
Team bosses at Citroën and M-Sport both expressed an interest in having Ogier as part of their WRC squads, and today in Coffs Harbour the Frenchman admitted he was weighing up two options and hoped to test two cars.
“It’s no secret I have been having talks with a couple of teams and now I think the next step is to meet them and have a bit more clue of what their plan is for the future,”Ogier said.
“I like to judge before I sign with anyone – so that’s my next step. Also try the car. It’s important to have some feelings about which car I could drive next year.”
These test drives could happen as early as next week – with Volkswagen’s blessing.
“We have what you say is a gentlemen’s agreement that I can work on my future. I hope, when I go back to Europe, very quickly I can work on this new project because there are only weeks before Monte Carlo,” Ogier explained.
“Obviously we are already a little bit late now to be in optimal condition for next season but I hope that very soon I’ll be able to take my decision.”
Key to that decision will be the likelihood of successfully defending his drivers’ championship. “I am always looking for competition and being competitive,” Ogier said. “A competitive team and car is what I want so I can have the car and continue what we have done for some years.”
Ogier’s move will also have implications for Mikkelsen and Latvala, both of whom are eager to secure late drives themselves next year.
“Obviously it’s not really ideal, it’s so late in the season that the seats are taken,”reflected Mikkelsen. “I guess it’s the same situation for both myself and Jari-Matti – we have to sit and wait and see what Seb does.”