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Ogier Learning About Managing Traffic Ahead of LMP2 Debut

Sebastien Ogier “pretty relaxed” ahead of WEC debut with Richard Mille Racing…

Photo: MPS Agency

Eight-time World Rally champion Sebastien Ogier says that he’s been learning how to manage traffic after having a “much more intense” experience of pack running in the build-up to his FIA World Endurance Championship debut at Sebring.

Ogier is gearing up for his LMP2 debut with Richard Mille Racing, sharing the Signatech-run team’s Oreca 07 Gibson with Lilou Wadoux and reigning champion Charles Milesi.

The 38-year-old Frenchman has undertaken multiple Le Mans Hypercar tests with his WRC employer Toyota Gazoo Racing and has also tested with the Richard Mille team at Paul Ricard.

Ogier completed his first test for Toyota in Bahrain last November, sharing the circuit with a handful of other cars.

He also joined Toyota for some of its private pre-season running, but the past week’s sessions at Sebring have seen him hit the track among a much higher volume of other cars from other categories.

“At the rookie test there were not so many cars driving, so it was pretty empty,” Ogier told Sportscar365.

“I didn’t get a feeling for traffic, but here it’s much more intense. It’s somehow fun, but it’s definitely a big part of your pace.

“Being quick in one lap is one thing, but the key is also being able to manage traffic. That’s a process I’m learning right now.

“With the team, I have been trying to analyze some of the moves we have done during the Prologue, just to understand how we could manage it the best. But it also feels like a lot of fun.”

Ogier said that he’s feeling “pretty relaxed” ahead of his WEC debut but noted that Free Practice was a “disaster” because rainfall and incidents only afforded him 15 laps. 

The WEC effort is not Ogier’s first time competing in a sports car race.

He has previously entered ADAC GT Masters, French GT and Porsche Supercup but his six-race campaign with Richard Mille Racing is his most serious commitment to the discipline so far.

“I don’t put too much pressure on myself about any race right now,” he said.

“I just hope that we can have a clean run and build something. We’ve been struggling a bit with setup since the track changed, so hopefully we find something a bit better for the race.

“Hopefully the team gives us a car that gives us a bit more confidence to enjoy it as much as we can.”

Milesi, Wadoux and Ogier tested the Oreca together at Paul Ricard ahead of last weekend’s Prologue, although the session was impacted by changeable conditions.

Ogier admitted that he didn’t enjoy driving the LMP2 car at Ricard, which is surrounded by large runoff areas, however he has significantly preferred Sebring and feels that the track gives a closer resemblance to the on-edge style of driving used in rallying.

“I think it’s a really cool track to drive,” he said. “It’s not really high speed, but there is a lot to do in the car.

“It is a fun track and to have the closeness with the wall… it’s a different environment but it’s a bit closer to what I know compared to when I went to Le Castellet.

“That was very open and an environment I’m not used to. It felt like I was missing something to be on it.

“We were there for two days. It was pretty changeable conditions, but still it was the first discovery.

“It felt a bit difficult to be honest, but I came here and felt that I could already build a better base, a better connection, with the car.

“But the conditions were different in the Prologue to now, and Free Practice was difficult for us. We had very little running time, so we will have to find out in the race how it goes.”

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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