Sebastian Ogier believed this dream of winning a fifth consecutive World Rally Championship (WRC) title was in tatters after a brake problem threatened to derail his bid in Britain the other weekend.
Ogier survived a dramatic Saturday night at Dayinsure Wales Rally GB when his mechanical skills were tested to the full repairing his wounded Ford Fiesta.
After an impact in the foggy Aberhirnant speed test punctured the front left tyre, he realised the brakes were also damaged. The remote location meant he was out of radio contact with his M-Sport team and left to fend for himself.
Ogier was caked in mud as he worked frantically to remove the brake disc before heading to the final Dyfnant test.
Remarkably, with only three operative brakes, he set fifth fastest time over the slimy forest roads to pave the way for Sunday’s title celebrations.
“We were in the middle of nowhere, in the fog, the night and the mud. I thought it was game over,” the 33-year-old Frenchman said.
“I was trying my best to try to fix this car which was quite bad. The front left was missing the discs, the pads, everything. In a very short time we had to find a solution to find some brakes but we drove the last stage and we made it,” he said.
“It was very last minute. I thought I would lose quite a lot of time in the last stage but with three brakes it was quite manageable,” Ogier added.
Securing a fifth crown clearly meant a great deal to Ogier, who celebrated at the end of the final Brenig special stage with tears streaming down his face.
After his Volkswagen team’s unexpected WRC withdrawal at the end of 2016, he had little time to piece together a deal and prepare for the new season with the privately-run British-based M-Sport.
“Every title means a lot and the first one you never forget because it’s the achievement of your career that you want. It’s the main one, you need this one,” said Ogier.
“Afterwards, of course, they all taste good as well and you always want more. I always want more that’s for sure, but this one was special because it was a new challenge, new cars, new team – everything was different from last year.
“We had to start very, very late. We started this season with almost no tests in the Fiesta. I knew it would be a tough job to preserve our title and we’ve made it so I think we can be proud of that,” he added.