Sebastien Ogier has made it clear – he wants to wrap up his eighth World Rally Championship title on this week’s Rally Spain.
One would be forgiven to think the Frenchman would play things safe given he holds a 24-point lead with just two rounds remaining. But clearly Ogier has other intentions.
“Spain will be the first realistic chance to claim the title,” said Ogier. “I know what I need to do to make it happen.
“When I have the chance to win I try to fight for it, and this will be the most simple way to achieve our goal.”
It’s hard to argue with that. Bagging a win, his fifth of the season, would put the championship to bed ahead of WRC’s final round – Rally Monza.
Of course, Rally Monza played a wildcard last year when the nail biting finale between Ogier and Elfyn Evans fell Ogier’s way courtesy of the Welshman’s unfortunate accident in the snow.
If Ogier plays it safe in Spain, the roles could easily be reversed in Monza this time around with Evans playing the role of having nothing to lose on the Monte-like rally.
2021 is Ogier’s farewell to full-time driving in the WRC, he’ll complete a part-time programme with Toyota next year. His send-off season has been exemplary so far but his plan of action for Spain doesn’t exactly resemble his most recent WRC results. Third on the Acropolis Rally is Ogier’s highest finish since winning Safari Rally Kenya five rounds ago.
But there is logic behind his thought process, he’ll have no gravel to sweep on Catalunya’s smooth asphalt roads. The conditions are likely to be much more predictable than Monza’s unique winter rally as well.
“It will be nice to have all three days of the rally on asphalt because those roads are really fun to drive. For us it will be good to not be sweeping gravel on the first day of the rally like we have been doing for much of the season.”
As for Evans, his hair raising Rally Finland victory has reignited titles hopes that looked extremely bleak two weeks ago. He’s keeping his feet on the ground though, focusing instead on the immediate task at hand.
“The drivers’ title is still a long shot for us but once more we’ll be giving our best in Spain and trying to get the best possible result there. The asphalt roads in Spain are really fantastic to drive, so I’m looking forward to competing on an all-asphalt event this time around.
“So far whenever I’ve driven the Yaris WRC on asphalt, the surface has usually been quite dirty or provided very low grip, so I’m excited to drive the higher-grip roads in Spain in this car.
“That said, at this time of year the weather is never guaranteed to be dry even in Spain. If it does rain, as we’ve seen in previous years, it can still be quite a tricky and demanding event.”
Photos courtesy of Toyota and Red Bull Content Pool