Ogier: Decent number of WRC events in 2021 "most important thing"

Toyota World Rally Championship driver Sebastien Ogier says "the most important thing" in his swansong campaign is that the series can stage a more representative season amid continued COVID-19 restrictions

Ogier: Decent number of WRC events in 2021 "most important thing"

The Frenchman defeated team-mate Elfyn Evans to claim his seventh world title in 2020, but after a flurry of events were cancelled due to the pandemic, the seven-round season was the shortest on record.

There were concerns that the 2021 season-opening Monte Carlo Rally would be cancelled amid a steep rise in cases in Europe after Rally Sweden dropped out of its February slot, but the event will go ahead as planned, albeit under strict COVID protocol.

Sweden's slot has been taken by Arctic Rally Finland because of the increased restrictions, while the Ypres Rally in Belgium will make its debut in the series at the expense of Britain.

Organisers behind Rally Northern Ireland were unsuccessful in demonstrating to public officials that the asphalt counter represented a sensible way to spend public money with the UK's coronavirus death rate creeping towards 100,000.

This year's WRC is one of the most diverse in recent memory, with Croatia debuting alongside the returning Safari Rally in Kenya and Rally Japan.

Ogier, who deferred his planned retirement at the end of 2020 to return for one final season, said ahead of the Monte beginning on Thursday that the mix of venues in 2021 would add an extra layer of excitement to the title battle, which he believes could involve as many as five drivers.

PLUS: Evans on the talking points of WRC 2021

"For sure, the calendar is changing very often, but the most important thing for me is that we manage to have a decent number of rallies - that would be great," the Frenchman told Autosport.

"And, of course, going to new destinations always makes things exciting and interesting. I have been in the game now for many years, so the chance to go to new places is going to be nice."

In a recent interview with Autosport, WRC Director Peter Thul said it was the Promoter's "ambition to run 12 WRC events in 2021", although more calendar changes could follow in the weeks ahead.

Hyundai driver Thierry Neuville, who won the Monte in 2020, said he was relieved that the organisers had been able to keep the event running.

"Any cancellation at the beginning of the new season is never good," he said.

"However I think it was close. But we are here now, under safe conditions, and I'm very pleased to start with the Monte again.

"Last year's calendar was very exciting but, unfortunately, we couldn't do all of those new events.

"The year ahead is going to be exciting still. There are new challenges ahead; I'm looking forward to it."

shares
comments
Evans on the talking points of WRC 2021
Previous article

Evans on the talking points of WRC 2021

Next article

Tanak: Second WRC season with Hyundai will be better than 2020

Tanak: Second WRC season with Hyundai will be better than 2020
How team orders could make Hyundai's historic Acropolis Rally a Greek tragedy Plus

How team orders could make Hyundai's historic Acropolis Rally a Greek tragedy

Thierry Neuville led a maiden Hyundai 1-2-3 in the World Rally Championship, as the previously soft i20 N became a battle-hardened Greek warrior at the Acropolis Rally. But with team orders in play between the winner and Hyundai’s title protagonist Ott Tanak, could the result come back to haunt the team?

WRC
Sep 12, 2022
How Tanak triumphed amid a series of Belgium WRC blunders Plus

How Tanak triumphed amid a series of Belgium WRC blunders

After runaway World Rally Championship leader Kalle Rovanpera made his first major mistake of the season, the chance to take advantage was wide open for the chasing pack. Several of his rivals faltered to grasp the opportunity, but Ott Tanak made no such mistake and demonstrated his class with a third win of the campaign

WRC
Aug 22, 2022
Inside Toyota’s new WRC dream factory where rally conquerers come to life Plus

Inside Toyota’s new WRC dream factory where rally conquerers come to life

Toyota locked out the top four places in the World Rally Championship's recent Safari Rally Kenya in a clear indication of its GR Yaris Rally1 hybrid's pace and durability. Autosport was recently given a tour of the new factory where its cars are designed, tested and built, and it reveals much about the commitment of the Japanese marque to continued WRC success

WRC
Aug 19, 2022
How Rovanpera has reignited Finland's rallying obsession Plus

How Rovanpera has reignited Finland's rallying obsession

Finland may have a small population, but it has long enjoyed rallying success. Now that the nation has a new star to cheer in the form of Kalle Rovanpera, interest in the discipline is surging once again

WRC
Aug 10, 2022
How Tanak spoiled Rovanpera’s Finnish homecoming Plus

How Tanak spoiled Rovanpera’s Finnish homecoming

Kalle Rovanpera and Toyota went into Rally Finland as overwhelming favourites but came away as runners-up to a resurgent Ott Tanak and Hyundai. While it may have dampened the homecoming party, it still moved the Finn closer to the ultimate World Rally Championship prize

WRC
Aug 8, 2022
Inside Hyundai’s F1-spec mobile WRC home Plus

Inside Hyundai’s F1-spec mobile WRC home

Hyundai is one of the World Rally Championship's big three, and has a brand-new travelling facility befitting of that status. The team invited Autosport for a behind-the-scenes look at its state-of-the-art HQ, which comes complete with all the bells and whistles you'd expect of a top Formula 1 outfit

WRC
Jul 27, 2022
How Rovanpera's latest Estonia masterclass left his WRC rivals stumped Plus

How Rovanpera's latest Estonia masterclass left his WRC rivals stumped

After trailing Toyota team-mate Elfyn Evans for much of Rally Estonia's opening day, WRC points leader Kalle Rovanpera took advantage of a change in the weather and never looked back afterwards. Winning for a fifth time this year at the scene of his 2021 breakthrough, and with a breathtaking powerstage bonus for good measure, his advantage is already looking difficult to topple

WRC
Jul 18, 2022
How the WRC captures its stunning visuals Plus

How the WRC captures its stunning visuals

Whether it’s the mountains of Monte Carlo, the snow of Sweden or the Kenya Savannah, the World Rally Championship is able to beam some of motorsport’s most spectacular footage to television screens while operating in the harshest of environments. Autosport went behind the scenes to unearth the secrets that make this logistical challenge possible

WRC
Jul 7, 2022