Last weekend at Rally Monza, Sébastien Ogier became the FIA World Rally Champion for a seventh time in his career, this time driving for Toyota Gazoo Racing in his first season for the team.
Ogier is now the second most successful driver in WRC history, just two titles shy of his fellow compatriot Sébastien Loeb after defeating teammate and title rival Elfyn Evans on the Italian event.
The Welshman had been leading the title standings up until the second full day on the final round of the season before he went off the road on the slippery mountain roads during a treacherous Saturday afternoon on the event.
“Before saying anything else I would like to give special credit to the organizers for putting on this rally in such a short time and for allowing us to finish the championship with a testing event that turned out to be one of the most challenging of the year. It went right from the outset at a fast pace, despite tricky conditions at the circuit, then came the mountain stages that made it possible to open up gaps.” Ogier said after securing the title.
“That was where we took the lead in the rally and then there was the key moment when Elfyn crashed out in a corner so tricky that it could have happened to anyone. From that point on we were masters of our fate again and we managed to finish the job on Sunday and get the big points we needed to swing the championship in our favour. I feel sorry for Elfyn because he clearly had a very strong season, but I’m sure that our battle as team-mates will continue to be just as intense in 2021.”
Ogier has now taken titles with three different manufacturers, firstly for Volkswagen Motorsport between 2013-16 during the German manufacture’s dominance of the sport.
He then later moved to M-Sport Ford where he also secured two more titles in both 2017 and 2018. Last season saw him again move, this time to Citroën Racing, but was beaten to the championship by Ott Tänak.
“Obviously we’re always happy to finish a championship in the top spot, but this season will always be a particular one in several respects. Since our last victory in Mexico in March, the health crisis has caused suffering for many people. I hope this intense finale will have brought a little joy to our fans during these difficult times and I hope especially that we will soon be able to have them around us again. In this context, it seemed only right to show a little restraint at the finish, but in spite of it all I think that Julien and I can be proud of the work we’ve accomplished this year. We adapted rapidly to our new environment with some solid performances in a car that we had to get used to and without committing any serious errors.” Ogier continued.
“I want to say a big thank you to Toyota for providing us with the equipment we needed to go out and bring back this seventh title. It’s a victory that we all share together, there’s no doubt about that. The Yaris WRC is a car that we enjoy enormously and that’s also why we have chosen to extend the adventure into 2021. I would so much have liked Tommi Mäkinen to be with us again for the coming season, but in any case it will always be an unforgettable memory for me to have shared this success with my boyhood idol.”