Ogier tries Toyota LMP1 sim as he eyes Le Mans future

Multiple champion enjoyed his first two days of LMP1 sim work at the team’s Cologne base last week

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Six-time World Rally Champion Sébastien Ogier has spent two days on Toyota’s TS050 LMP1 sportscar simulator and reaffirmed his aim to compete in the Le Mans 24 Hours once he retires from the WRC.

Ogier, who has some circuit racing experience courtesy of guest drives in the Porsche Supercup and DTM, has stated previously that taking part in the French endurance classic is one of his post-rallying career objectives.

And, exploiting the recent lack of competitive rally action, Ogier last week had his first try-out in the Toyota LMP1 car’s high-performance simulator at its Cologne headquarters, and said it was a “cool introduction”.

“It was something really new, a very cool experience,” he said in a Toyota video that you can watch below.

“Everybody knows that it’s one of my future dreams to participate in Le Mans so I think it’s a cool introduction to it to be here during these two days and discover how to drive [the cars] without any consequences.

“In the simulator, you can push the limits without any trouble, so that has been very interesting.”

Far more accustomed to pushing his Yaris WRC to the limits on the stages, Ogier took some time to get to grips with a simulator based around precise steering inputs and miniscule set-up changes, but was happy with his progression.

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“[At the] beginning, it wasn’t easy of course,” Ogier explained.

“The simulator is getting closer and closer to reality but still you are lacking a little bit of feedback compared to reality where you lock the wheels, the g-force is not there.

“So, I needed a bit of time but I think I am happy with my progression, run after run, it was always getting quicker, so that made me happy.

“The only similarities [between LMP1 and rallying] is to be as fast as you can from A to B, but otherwise there are a lot of differences. But at the end, when you are a racing driver, you like these new challenges and adapting to something new.

“In rallying, one of the qualities rally drivers have is to adapt quickly to new things, so that’s what I had to try to prove today.”

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It’s not a secret that Ogier plans to participate in more circuit racing once his WRC career comes to an end, which is now expected to be at the end of the 2021 season, and he is pleased his current team Toyota is able to facilitate more opportunities to drive the TS050.

“For sure, if I have a chance later to go in a real one, it would be even more exciting,” added Ogier.

“The future is still on rallying for the moment, I’m looking forward to restarting the season in WRC and try to fight for some wins and for another title, that’s the near future. And hopefully maybe after that, we can think about a future in Le Mans, that would be cool.”

Ogier by racing at Le Mans would be following in the footsteps of his fellow multiple World Rally champion Sébastien Loeb, who finished second overall at Le Mans in 2006 with Pescarolo Sport.

Rally legend Colin McRae meanwhile finished third in his GTS class and ninth overall at Le Mans in 2004, in a Prodrive-entered Ferrari.

Words:Stephen Brunsdon