Ogier “never changed so much” to find Rally Spain sweet spot

Sebastien Ogier says he’s “never changed so much on a car during a rally” to overcome set-up issues that have plagued his World Rally Championship victory hopes in Spain.

Listen to this article

The seven-time world champion headed into the penultimate round of the season motivated to wrap up an eighth world title, with Spain’s tarmac roads reducing the impact of being the roadsweeper on the opening day.

Ogier can secure the championship if he outscores his Toyota team-mate Elfyn Evans by six points.

However, the Frenchman has struggled for confidence in his Yaris and with Pirelli’s new hard compound tyres, resulting in wholesale set-up changes throughout Friday and Saturday, which have finally yielded results.

Ogier managed to pick up two stage wins during Saturday afternoon to move into a comfortable third, edging closer to second-placed Evans and Hyundai’s runaway rally leader Thierry Neuville.

“It was a tough first half of the rally for us,” said Ogier. “We have been working a lot on the car and now I am starting to feel better. I have never changed so much on a car during a rally, but at least we have finally found better pace.

"It is the first time we have driven these configuration of roads in the Yaris. In the end, it looks like the test we did was not great because it was not representative of what we have here."

Following the morning loop of stages, Ogier’s third place had come under threat from Hyundai’s Dani Sordo, who closed to within 0.2s.

Equipped with a more suitable set-up, Ogier managed to pull almost seven seconds clear of Sordo only for a stall on the day's final spectator stage reduced his advantage to only 1.2s.

"The engine stalled, no idea why,” he added. “I was on the clutch like normal then in a hairpin it just stalled. We know that on this kind of stage this can happen.

“It is a shame, we had a great afternoon but at least we have finally found a car that suits me and the pace is there.

“We managed to make seven seconds this afternoon but we dropped it all on this last Mickey Mouse stage, so it is all to be done again, but I’m confident it is possible with that car now.”

Elfyn Evans, Scott Martin, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota Yaris WRC

Elfyn Evans, Scott Martin, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota Yaris WRC

Photo by: Toyota Racing

Evans frustrated set-up swing backfired

While Ogier’s set-up changes reignited his rally, Evans’ efforts to tweak his Yaris to close the gap to leader Neuville failed, leaving the title hopeful frustrated.

Evans led the rally up until Stage 4 on Friday and headed into Saturday, 0.7s adrift of leader Neuville.

Evans was unable to match Neuville’s pace on Saturday, and in a bid to fight for the lead, a series of set-up changes had the adverse effect, placing the Welshman 16.4s adrift in second heading into Sunday.

“I’m not happy to be honest. It's not what we wanted,” said Evans. “I didn't feel ultimately that comfortable this morning but it was even worse this afternoon.

“It’s fair to say we did improve some areas where we were struggling, but I lost the general balance of the car as a result. Obviously, we had try something but it didn’t work out today.

“We are fighting for fine margins and we trying to improve all the time especially in these dirty areas we seem to be losing a lot running further back on the road, he added when asked why he chose to tinker with the car set-up.

Evans, is however, on course to take the title fight to the final round in Monza if he finishes ahead of Ogier on Sunday.

Read Also:

shares
comments
WRC to introduce new Artificial Intelligence camera to improve safety
Previous article

WRC to introduce new Artificial Intelligence camera to improve safety

Next article

Spain WRC: Neuville closing in on victory as Ogier loses third

Spain WRC: Neuville closing in on victory as Ogier loses third
The key steps on Rovanpera's romp to a history-making WRC title Prime

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
Dec 1, 2022
How trailblazer Kalle Rovanpera has ripped up the WRC record book Prime

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 Prime

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 Prime

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
Motorsport.com gets to grips as a WRC co-driver Prime

Motorsport.com 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 is no less demanding. We 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 Prime

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

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 Prime

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