Photo: Mercedes

Sébastien Ogier secures Mercedes wild card drive at the Red Bull Ring

Five-time World Rally champion Sébastien Ogier will make his DTM debut at the Red Bull Ring as a wild card entry at the wheel of a seventh Mercedes AMG C63 DTM.

Ogier had been linked to Mercedes’ wild card entry, but the participation of a seventh car at one of the last three rounds of the season was subject to the DMSB’s (German ASN) waiver of regulation that prevented such an entry – with BMW and Audi agreeing to the waiver.

The 34-year-old had his first taste of a DTM car at Zandvoort, taking his wife Andrea Kaiser – TV presenter for series broadcaster SAT 1 – on a series of passenger laps, and will have an adaptation test at Vallelunga today and tomorrow in preparation for the penultimate round of the season at the Red Bull Ring on September 21-23.

Ogier, a Red Bull athlete, will carry a special livery not related to the energy drink, since the Mercedes team at the DTM is sponsored by rival company Silberpfeil.

“This is a very exciting experience,” he said. “The DTM is something completely new for me, but I’m trying to learn as much as possible with each lap. I see it as an opportunity to broaden my racing horizons and gain more experience.

“Up to now, I haven’t driven much on permanent racetracks – only a couple of times in a GT car. A DTM car is obviously faster. Of course, you can’t expect to be competitive as a guest starter right away. I’m expecting difficulties in my first weekend at Spielberg, where my target will be to keep up with the other drivers as much as is possible.”

Mercedes AMG DTM boss Ulrich Fritz was understandably thrilled to confirm Ogier’s participation.

“Sébastien is a real racing driver,” he said. “He has demonstrated his ability more times than enough all over the world on gravel and tarmac by winning five world rally championships.

“So it comes as no big surprise to me that he would now like to tame a DTM car. He will be making his DTM debut on a proper race circuit at Spielberg, and I know for sure that he and his fans will have a lot of fun as he does so. However, it’s also very apparent that it will be no walk in the park for Sébastien as a guest starter in such a hotly contested field. Still, that’s what drives a champion like him to put on a good show for the fans.”

Audi used its wild card entry at the season opener at Hockenheim for a special farewell race for Mattias Ekström, with BMW taking its opportunity at the seventh round of the season at Misano for brand ambassador Alex Zanardi’s DTM debut.