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Sebastien Ogier says he does not want any team orders from Citroen in the 2019 World Rally Championship.
Ogier is joined by former Toyota driver Esapekka Lappi as he returns to Citroen and wants them to work together to focus on making the car quicker.
“One thing which is sure: I don’t want any number one status in the team,” said Ogier.
“For me it has to be equal chance as long as we both have a chance to fight [for the title].
“If one driver has the chance and the other does not then it’s logical to give some support in this direction. Right now we start with the same chance.
“I’m happy to have Esapekka in the team, he’s a nice guy and definitely some talent as well.
“And he can bring some interesting things from his old team.”
For the first time last year, Ogier relied on help from team-mates to land the drivers’ title – with M-Sport partners Elfyn Evans and Teemu Suninen assisting him up the order at some events as the championship fight got closer.
He is keen to avoid that sort of scenario this time around.
“There was some times when I had some help from team-mates,” Ogier said.
“That’s not the way I wanted it and it’s not the way I want to start the season thinking like this.
“My target is that I want to make it on my own and most of my career it was like this.
“Yes, there was a situation where I benefited from some support from my colleagues and at least that was a little bit of giving back from what I have done in the same way.”
Lappi, who was the least experienced Toyota driver alongside Ott Tanak and Jari-Matti Latvala last year, said he knew his new six-time champion team-mate went into 2019 as Citroen’s most likely title hope.
But he does not expect to be making way for Ogier unless the championship fight demands it.
“It’s quite clear who is number one and who is number two,” Lappi said, before joking: “At least I’m not number three, which is already better!
“So far, I don’t know how Seb works. In what I’ve discussed so far he seems warm and a nice guy, but maybe he’s a different person in race mode.
“Later in the season, if it looks like I’m not on the fight for the overall standings, then it’s quite clear we will give space for him like M-Sport did for him. It’s part of the game.
“But, if I’m leading on Monte and he’s behind, for sure I will not give him any space. We are on an equal level in the start of the season.”
The 2019 World Rally Championship launches at Autosport International this weekend – get your tickets here