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Ogier Secures LMP2 Drive with Richard Mille Racing

Eight-time WRC champion Sebastien Ogier to tackle WEC season in LMP2…

Photo: Toyota Gazoo Racing

Eight-time FIA World Rally champion Sebastien Ogier will drive in the FIA World Endurance Championship this year after finalizing a deal with the Richard Mille Racing LMP2 squad.

Ogier, one of the most successful rally drivers of all time, has been confirmed in the French team’s Oreca 07 Gibson alongside Charles Milesi and Lilou Wadoux.

The 38-year-old Frenchman will make his 24 Hours of Le Mans debut in June as part of a full six-round campaign that gets underway at Sebring in March.

Toyota driver Ogier has moved closer to sports cars in recent months and has been aided by his employer’s dual involvements in both World Rally and the WEC.

He tested the Toyota GR010 Hybrid LMH car at Bahrain International Circuit in November and also joined the team for an endurance test at Aragon last week.

After the Bahrain session, Ogier indicated that he would consider LMP2 as an appropriate first step into full-time sports car racing.

Toyota announced its 2022 WEC lineup in early December but Ogier was not mentioned, with the only driver change being the arrival of Ryo Hirakawa in place of Kazuki Nakajima.

“I know it’s a big challenge, but I have been looking for a program that motivates me more than the easy option,” said Ogier.

“Up until now, I have focused on my rally career, but it has been on my mind for a long time that endurance racing could be a good challenge.

“All drivers tend to be a bit self-centered, but there comes a time you want to share more when you are lucky enough to have had a successful career.

“LMP2 is a fantastic category and the best way for me to reach the highest level of endurance racing and improve in this discipline.

“I am a novice for sure, but I want to enjoy myself while assessing what’s possible and seeing how close I can get to the best.”

“Everyone is excited about it. Charles, Lilou and I come from three different worlds, and it will be interesting to combine our different experiences with Richard Mille, who has been by my side for several years now.

“This adventure is enticing, but I am aware that I have a lot to learn and a lot of experience to gain. I have always had a good capacity to adapt in rallying, so I hope that this will also be true on race tracks.”

Ogier’s co-drivers Milesi and Wadoux are both new to the Richard Mille Racing setup, which is operated by the Signatech team that also runs Alpine’s Hypercar effort.

Milesi won the LMP2 title last year with Team WRT and also took a couple of European Le Mans Series poles for Cool Racing, whereas Wadoux is set for her first drive at world championship level.

Designated Silver driver Wadoux competed in the Alpine Elf Europa Cup single-make series in the last two years and was called up to test the Richard Mille Racing Oreca in Bahrain during the WEC rookie test, when Ogier turned his first laps in the Toyota LMH.

Team Moves Away from All-Female Ethos

Richard Mille Racing’s lineup for the 2022 season breaks away from the team’s ethos of recruiting all-female driver lineups.

The team has addressed this by describing its new roster as the beginning of a “new era” for the program, with mixed lineups demonstrating the end goal of pathway initiatives for women in motorsport.

Richard Mille Racing also intends to “keep a close eye” on the upcoming progress of Sophia Floersch, Beitske Visser and Tatiana Calderon who drove for the team in the 2020 European Le Mans Series before graduating to a WEC program last year.

Andre Negrao and Gabriel Aubry have previously driven for the team, creating mixed driver lineups, however their appearances came as substitutes for a full-time driver.

“Our initial aim was to call attention to the lack of opportunities for women,” commented Amanda Mille, brand and partnerships director at Richard Mille.

“It was important for us to start with an all-female team to make our intentions known, compel people to think and challenge biases.

“We have had two great years with three women who have proven themselves in an LMP2 prototype in ELMS and then WEC. However, all the female drivers say they want more inclusivity by finding their place in mixed teams.

“Their dream comes true when men want to drive alongside them in the same team, and this is now our case with a trio promising a fulfilling season both from a human and sporting perspective.”

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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