The lesson Ogier learned from his sixth Portugal win

Even in the process of taking a 60th WRC win, Sébastien Ogier still discovered something new

Ogier05POR24mj255 (1)

After adding World Rally Championship victory number 60 and becoming the most successful driver in Rally Portugal history, surpassing Markku Alén, you’d think Sébastien Ogier had nothing left to learn.

But it turns out you can teach an eight-time world champion new tricks.

In amongst the drama for his Toyota team-mates – two crashed out and the other had a puncture, damaged the cooling on his car and his co-driver lost his pace notes – Ogier’s rally will have seemed serene by comparison.

But there was a drama that was easily forgotten in the madness: Ogier and co-driver Vincent Landais suffered an intercom failure on Arganil, Friday’s longest stage.

That issue highlighted that, as it turns out, one of the world’s most successful and experienced rally drivers hadn’t seen and done it all.

He and Landais suddenly had to improvise; Landais valiantly tried to describe the road with his hands but to limited effect.

“The truth is we never prepared that together,” Ogier told DirtFish. “We never prepared for this situation because it was the first time in my career that I lost the intercom and I had an issue with the helmet. It was a broken cable I heard, so bad luck.

Landais05POR24mj260 (1)
It's quite easy to understand now that we have talked but we should have done it before. Vincent Landais

“Vincent and I have been together less than two years and honestly we never practiced this situation. He gave me some signs but I was not sure what he was meaning with his signs, so I didn’t really listen to it to be honest. I barely watched!

“But now actually we have talked about it and if it happened again we might be a little bit better prepared.”

The champagne has barely stopped bubbling and the hood of the winning GR Yaris Rally1 is still warm to the touch. But, faced with an unexpected reality. Ogier and Landais have already discussed and implemented a new system in case intercom problems should ever happen again.

Landais admitted that they “should have talked about that before because we never thought that it could happen.”

But what’s done is done. And like the model professionals they are, a new backup system has already been worked out.

Ogier05POR24mj511 (1)

No hand signals needed to decipher this!

“We have an angle for the corners, so with my fingers I can make some corners. We’re going to remember that, and in the future we know that if I make three like this,” says Landais as he holds three fingers up and waves to the left,” it’s 130, because the corner is 130. Or four is for 140, and five for 150. It’s quite easy to understand now that we have talked, but we should have done it before.”

The upside is it didn’t cost them much. With no pacenotes being piped into his ear, Séb banked on all those years of experience.

“Staying calm in this moment and managing the time lost was key for sure because I think it didn’t cost us much,” said Ogier. And he was right: limiting his losses to only a couple of seconds made a difference in the end – he was just a little too far away from Ott Tänak for the chasing Hyundai to attempt a last-ditch push for victory on the powerstage.

“Luckily [Arganil] was also a stage we’ve done many times in the past which means I remember most of it. But of course there was still a couple of hesitations on the very fast places where there was a big drop on the right of the road, so you definitely don’t want to crash there.”

Ogier knows almost everything. And now the list has grown by one: how to deal with no intercom. Rallying never fails to surprise, even for those who think they’ve seen it all.