World Rally champion Sebastien Ogier picked up his fifth straight Rally Driver of the Year Award at the 2017 Autosport Awards.
Despite having to make a last-minute move to M-Sport after Volkswagen’s WRC pullout and being up against factory opposition from Hyundai, Toyota and Citroen, Ogier was able to stretch his run of WRC titles to five this year.
“It’s definitely very special,” said Ogier. “It’s not so often that you can achieve these kind of things in motorsport.
“There was some back-up from Ford behind us, but there’s so much passion in this team and everyone worked very hard.
“I’m definitely enjoying this moment. This year means a lot for me. Even if it was the fifth time, it was a bit different this time.
“This year was a bit exceptional, but we know long term you need to be a works team to take the big steps.”
The award was presented by former WRC driver and potential Formula 1 returnee Robert Kubica.
“I had the pleasure to be a part of the World Rally Championship for three years,” he said.
“It’s a completely different sport, it’s nothing to do with Formula 1.
“As a rally driver you need to be a much more flexible driver, you have to adapt to different conditions – the conditions are never the same.
“As a circuit driver you have to be very precise, very consistent. As a rally driver you cannot do that.
“I had chance to win an F1 race but I didn’t have chance to win a [WRC] rally.”
Ogier’s rivals in the Autosport Awards vote included the two drivers who pushed him hard for the 2017 WRC title – Hyundai’s lead runner Thierry Neuville and Ogier’s M-Sport team-mate Ott Tanak.
Britain’s WRC winners Kris Meeke and Elfyn Evans were also in the running, as was Ogier’s former VW team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala – who was nominated for his efforts in leading the brand new Toyota team to a victory in just its second start.
Though Ogier had talks with Citroen and also considered retiring, he has now committed to staying with M-Sport to defend his crown again in 2018.