Ogier: WRC title fight has kept a lid on full-time career end emotions

Sebastian Ogier says the need to perform in this weekend’s World Rally Championship Rally Monza title decider has helped hold back the emotions of his final full-time event.

The seven-time world champion heads to northern Italy determined to end his glittering full-time WRC career on a high by securing an eighth world title.

Ogier is set for a head-to-head battle with Toyota teammate Elfyn Evans for the second year in succession to decide the championship, with the Frenchman holding a 17-point advantage over his rival.

This will be 37-year-old’s last opportunity to win a WRC title as he prepares to embark upon a partial campaign with Toyota next season, driving the Japanese marque’s third entry with Esapekka Lappi.

While the event is a significant moment in his WRC career, Ogier says the impending title fight with Evans has help shift his focus away from the emotions of his full-time WRC farewell.

“The truth is I haven’t had much emotion so far for maybe two reasons,” Ogier told Autosport.

“The first is that we have still business to finish in Monza and a title to fight for which means I try to stay very focused on that. Also the fact that I will remain with Toyota and there is still this possibility to do some rallies, so it is not a clear stop.

“I guess that is why that I’m not thinking as much about that fact that it is the end of the full campaign. So far I haven’t been caught by the emotion [of it]; let’s see what happens. First of all the plan is to finish on a high of course. It might be an emotional weekend at the end.”

Having seen a 44-point championship lead reduced to 17 in the space of two events by an in-form Evans, who claimed victory in Finland and a second last time out in Spain, Ogier is expecting a tough battle from the Welshman.

Sébastien Ogier, Julien Ingrassia, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota Yaris WRC

Sébastien Ogier, Julien Ingrassia, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota Yaris WRC

Photo by: Toyota Racing

“I know that he [Elfyn] is strong and I have known since the beginning of the year,” added Ogier, who only needs to score 13 points from a possible 30 to seal the title.

“Two years battling for the championship at the last rally is not coming by surprise. I think we can say we had the edge on him for a good part of the season, but now recently since I have been in this managing position and not giving one hundred percent, and being on the safe side, you can see the gaps are very small in this championship.

“If you adopt this more careful strategy you can fall back in the rankings and not be as sharp as you can be.

"The last two rallies have not been very strong for me and him winning in Finland and being second in Spain, I’m sure he will give everything in Monza.

“I think we are in a good position but it is motorsport and nothing is done and we have to finish the job.

“I know it is not over yet and we have to perform to win.”

To add to the emotion levels this weekend, the event will be the last for Ogier’s co-driver Julien Ingrassia, who confirmed his retirement last month.

Ogier, who will be partnered by Benjamin Veillas for next year’s partial campaign, has paid tribute to the 16-year partnership and seven world titles he has shared with Ingrassia.

“On Sunday it will be a strange moment as we know Julien will never sit with me again in the car, although one more time never say never, but at the moment that is his decision,” said Ogier.

“He has been part of the journey and these fantastic results that we have achieved together and he has played a big role. It is no question, he is the best co-driver out there and he has done a really tremendous job through all these years with very few mistakes.”

Rally Monza will be contested over 16 stages and will begin on Friday.

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