Ogier admits Evans crash took away from title enjoyment

Sebastien Ogier admits the misfortune of Toyota WRC teammate Elfyn Evans crashing out of last weekend's title-deciding Rally Monza made winning his seventh title harder to enjoy.

The Frenchman won the Italian event by 13.9 seconds from outgoing champion Ott Tanak to become only the second person in history (after Juha Kankkunen) to win the series with three different manufacturers.

Evans carried a 14-point buffer going to Monza, a late addition to this year's schedule, and appeared to be on course to end the UK's 19 year wait for a WRC champion.

But an off on the penultimate day, when the rear of his Yaris WRC broke free in snowy conditions, dashed those hopes and made his teammate's job more straightforward.

Reflecting on those events, Ogier admitted that Evans’ setback, which allowed Hyundai to retain the manufacturers' crown, put a dampener on his celebrations.

“With Julien [Ingrassia, co-driver], we’ve been quite happy with the performance we’ve had [this season],” said Ogier. “Of course, one of the bad turns was Rally Turkey for us where we lost the championship lead [with engine problems].

“After that, not knowing how many events were remaining, it was never going to be an easy challenge to come back.

"We just said that we came here with this 14-point disadvantage knowing that the only chance we had was to put maximum pressure on Elfyn and try to win the rally and force him to score big points if he wanted to remain on the lead.

“At the end, it turned out to work well for us so, of course, when that happened, I didn’t jump in the air because it was my teammate off the road and at this moment, we kind of lost as well the manufacturers’ title, so I couldn't really enjoy it.

“But personally, of course, it meant that if I finished the job I would be there [at the finish] talking about the seventh WRC title. So, I am of course very happy with that and very happy for the whole team.”

In the lead up to the season finale, Ogier had told Motorsport.com a seventh title would mean less to him than the previous six because COVID-19’s widespread effect had led to the creation of a “mini-championship”.

Having initially planned to retire after the 2020 season, the 36-year-old was convinced to extend his Toyota contract into next year amid the health crisis.

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