Ogier expects his final WRC season to be the most open yet

Sebastien Ogier believes his final World Rally Championship season could be the most open yet, with the defending champion tipping Toyota team-mate Kalle Rovanpera to be a dark horse

Ogier expects his final WRC season to be the most open yet

Ogier's last full season in rallying's top division will get underway at Rallye Monte-Carlo on Thursday afternoon where the Frenchman is targeting a record-breaking eighth victory at the Gap-based event.

Once again, the 37-year-old starts as the bookies' favourite, but he is predicting a five-way scrap for the title in 2021.

Elfyn Evans pushed the Frenchman close last year and held a fourteen-point lead going into the deciding round at Rally Monza only for an off on the penultimate day to dash his dreams of following in the footsteps of boyhood heroes Colin McRae and Richard Burns.

Ott Tanak made inroads with his Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC in 2020, scoring three second-place finishes and triumphing on home soil at Rally Estonia.

As for Toyota Gazoo Racing protege Rovanpera, he ended all but one rally in the points, and netted two power stage wins in Sweden and Estonia alongside Jonne Halttunen.

The young Finn also enjoyed a commanding three-minute victory on last year's Artic Lapland Rally - the same event that has been added to the WRC calendar following the loss of Rally Sweden to COVID restrictions.

"Last year was very close and I expect about the same level of competition - that is for sure," Ogier told Autosport.

"With Ott and with Elfyn they are a bit like me, they are more prepared with the car, so that should help them to be even better this season.

"I think the contender for the title should, at least, remain the same four [Ogier, Thierry Neuville, Tanak and Evans] as last year, plus probably more.

"Why not Kalle after what he has done in his first season? It's definitely possible that he'll join us in the fight."

Ogier announced back in November that he was extending his stay in the WRC by one year due to the coronavirus health pandemic that led to a number of rallies being cancelled in 2020.

"I am pleased to be here. It was my decision - I am very happy and I want to enjoy my last season," he said on Tuesday.

"To enjoy it, the plan is to keep pushing and performing - that has always been my way of competing.

"I always want to give my best and when I enter this championship, I want to win it one more time."

shares
comments
Neuville to make long-term WRC co-driver call after Monte Carlo
Previous article

Neuville to make long-term WRC co-driver call after Monte Carlo

Next article

Evans on the talking points of WRC 2021

Evans on the talking points of WRC 2021
The key steps on Rovanpera's romp to a history-making WRC title Plus

The key steps on Rovanpera's romp to a history-making WRC title

With only cameo roles played by legendary Sebastiens Ogier and Loeb, Kalle Rovanpera ushered in the new hybrid era for the World Rally Championship by becoming its youngest champion. Here's how Toyota's Flying Finn crushed the competition, led by Hyundai's departing star Ott Tanak

WRC
34m
How trailblazer Kalle Rovanpera has ripped up the WRC record book Plus

How trailblazer Kalle Rovanpera has ripped up the WRC record book

At the tender age of 22, Kalle Rovanpera is redefining what’s possible to achieve in rallying and inspiring a new legion of fans as a result. The newly-crowned World Rally Championship title-winner and his peers reflect on his ability and the start of his success in the top tier

WRC
Nov 26, 2022
How Hyundai and Neuville gatecrashed Toyota's homecoming party Plus

How Hyundai and Neuville gatecrashed Toyota's homecoming party

Thierry Neuville signed off the 2022 World Rally Championship season with his second win of the season in Japan after Toyota rival Elfyn Evans suffered a late puncture. With Sebastien Ogier and Kalle Rovanpera also delayed by punctures and incidents, it opened the door for Neuville and Ott Tanak to record Hyundai's second 1-2 of the season in Toyota's own backyard

WRC
Nov 14, 2022
The message a WRC stalwart sent which its new king couldn’t answer Plus

The message a WRC stalwart sent which its new king couldn’t answer

Sebastien Ogier might be the outgoing World Rally champion, but it didn’t stop him reminding everyone of the skills that made him an eight-time world champion. As victory at Rally Spain led Toyota’s charge to a titles clean sweep, it did pose a question to newly-crowned champion Kalle Rovanpera which he could not answer

WRC
Oct 24, 2022
Autosport gets to grips as a WRC co-driver Plus

Autosport gets to grips as a WRC co-driver

The majority of headlines may focus on the exploits of drivers in the World Rally Championship, but the challenges facing their co-drivers are no less demanding. Autosport got in the passenger seat with Toyota Gazoo Racing to find out just what it takes to succeed

WRC
Oct 6, 2022
How Rally New Zealand encapsulated record-breaking Rovanpera’s WRC title charge Plus

How Rally New Zealand encapsulated record-breaking Rovanpera’s WRC title charge

Kalle Rovanpera’s coronation as the new World Rally Championship king had been a long time coming, only to be postponed by hiccups in Belgium and Greece. But at Rally New Zealand the “Full Send” Finn demonstrated exactly how he's been able to rewrite the rallying record book as he stormed to victory to become the youngest ever world champion

WRC
Oct 3, 2022
How a Toyota lifeline reignited Lappi's WRC career Plus

How a Toyota lifeline reignited Lappi's WRC career

Motorsport can be brutal at times. One moment a driver can be the next big thing, but it can spiral in the other direction so quickly. Thankfully, sometimes drivers receive second chances. And Esapekka Lappi has taken his World Rally Championship lifeline in both hands

WRC
Sep 28, 2022
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