TOYOTA TAKES MANUFACTURERS’ LAURELS*
Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia swept to a remarkable eighth FIA World Rally Championship title* in nine seasons in Italy on Sunday afternoon.
The Frenchmen ended their careers together in style with victory at ACI Rally Monza after a thrilling showdown with Toyota Gazoo Racing team-mate Elfyn Evans.
The lead changed hands six times across three days of challenging speed tests in the foothills of the Italian Alps and at Monza’s iconic Temple of Speed circuit.
The outcome was decided when Evans spun in the penultimate speed test, allowing Ogier to win by 7.3sec in a Yaris World Rally Car. Ogier will step back from full-time driving next year while this marked Ingrassia’s final rally.
Ogier survived a massive final morning fright when he clipped a concrete barrier at Monza. The impact took a chunk out of his front right tyre, but the Pirelli rubber remained inflated.
His championship winning margin was 23 points from Evans. Their 1-2 finish ensured a clean sweep of the major titles as Toyota also secured the manufacturers’ honours* for the first time since 2018 after winning nine of the 12 rounds.
Dani Sordo completed the podium in a Hyundai i20, 14.0sec behind Evans. Spaniard Sordo demoted team-mate Thierry Neuville on Saturday afternoon when the Belgian spun into a barrier. Neuville ended 10.7sec behind.
Oliver Solberg scored a career-best fifth place despite stalling his i20’s engine twice in the final stage.
Teemu Suninen climbed to sixth in a similar car when Takamoto Katsuta spun into a barrier and broke his Yaris’ front left suspension in the penultimate stage.
Katsuta recovered to finish seventh ahead of Gus Greensmith’s Ford Fiesta. The Briton also spun in the penultimate test but ended almost two minutes clear of Kalle Rovanperä.
The young Finn, winner of two rounds this season, drove cautiously all weekend to bag points for Toyota’s title bid in case Ogier and Evans hit trouble.
FIA WRC3 winner Andrea Crugnola completed the leaderboard in an i20 N Rally2. Behind him in 11th overall, Frenchman Yohan Rossel grabbed the WRC3 crown* with a monumental charge through the Power Stage to win in front of his main rival Kajetan Kajetanowicz by a slender 3.1sec.
In FIA WRC2, Jari Huttunen sealed a superb class victory on his first rally with British squad M-Sport Ford. The Finn started the rally cautiously as he got to grips with his new Fiesta Rally2 machine. He ended the opening day second, but moved into the top spot early on Saturday morning when early leader Toksport’s Marco Bulacia crashed his Toksport Škoda Fabia Rally2.
Heading into the final day, Huttunen held a hefty 1min 01.6sec lead over his nearest challenger Andreas Mikkelsen at Toksport, who tumbled down the order after a wheel change on Friday.
Mikkelsen clawed back time over the final three tests at Monza’s Temple of Speed circuit, but Huttunen measured his pace accordingly to bring home the win with 47.0sec in hand over his Toksport rival. The result also marked M-Sport Ford’s first victory of the year.
The event marked the end of the World Rally Car era after 25 seasons. Next year will bring the introduction of exciting new hybrid-powered Rally1 cars to the championship.
1. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Toyota Yaris 2hr 39min 08.6sec
2. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota Yaris +7.3sec
3. D Sordo / C Carrera ESP Hyundai i20 +21.3sec
4. T Neuville / M Wydaeghe BEL Hyundai i20 +32.0sec
5. O Solberg / E Edmondson SWE Hyundai i20 +1min 32.0sec
6. T Suninen / M Markkula FIN Hyundai i20 +2min 22.6sec
2021 FIA World Rally Championship (final driver positions)
1. S Ogier 230pts
2. E Evans 207
3. T Neuville 176
* subject to the official publication of the results by the FIA