Following the announcement of Sebastien Ogier as its first World Rally Championship driver for 2012, AUTOSPORT spoke exclusively to the company's motorsport director Kris Nissen about the deal with the Frenchman.
Q. Why Sebastien Ogier?
Kris Nissen: I'm sure you can answer that question better than me. First of all, he is for sure one of the five best drivers in the world who can do a fantastic job and he has won races.
Secondly, the situation on the contract side made it possible to come to an agreement. We feel a little like we have won the lottery. If you look overall, it's easy to see he is quite young and he has been very good in 2010 and in 2011 even better. I really think we can be very pleased and very proud that he finally decided to come to us.
Q. Was it an easy deal to do?
KN: I won't go into too many details, but I think it was logical after he decided not to stay at Citroen, he had two choices: Ford or Volkswagen. At Ford they have a lot of good arguments to bring him into the team and I think he would like, very much in 2012 to drive with a team which could win the championship. On the other hand, I think he has seen how we work at Volkswagen.
He has seen the last three Dakar victories. He has seen our small team running the Skoda cars at WRC; everybody can see we are taking this program very seriously from the beginning – and we have a program until the end of 2015. In his evaluation, he had most arguments for Volkswagen.
I don't want to say it was hard or difficult, what I will say is that from the first contact until now it was in a nice, constructive way. He is an intelligent person with good people around him and we feel this already now. Yesterday evening we had a nice dinner together and then this morning he was in the company very early, when I introduced him and Julien [Ingrassia, co-driver] to all of the people in Volkswagen Motorsport. They are already now part of the Volkswagen family.
Q. How long is the contract?
KN: We do not normally talk about contracts, but we accept from the beginning that our program is until the minimum of 2015 and by that time, if he's not to old to drive a racecar...I think it's very possible he will still be with Volkswagen.
Q. When does Ogier drive a Volkswagen for the first time?
KN: He already did! He drove with Julien in the [Race] Touareg and that was nice to see. We are just discussing and thinking about when he can do it for the first time. I expect him to be in Polo zero [test car] some time in December. The first real racecar will be ready in February.
Q. What will he do next year?
KN: First of all, he will compete in our, let's call it Junior team, and the final plan is not yet up.
Q. How do you avoid the problems Citroen experienced with Loeb?
KN: That's very easy – we do not sign an agreement with Loeb.