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Shorter season would 'devalue' WRC title, says Ogier ahead of finale

AFP logoAFP 12/3/2020 AFP
a group of baseball players standing on top of a field: Sebastien Ogier (C) and Elfyn Evans (L) both finished on the podium at the 2018 Rally of Catalonia © PAU BARRENA Sebastien Ogier (C) and Elfyn Evans (L) both finished on the podium at the 2018 Rally of Catalonia

Six-time drivers' champion Sebastien Ogier says winning this season's World Rally Championship would mean less to him than his previous successes, ahead of his bid to reel in standings leader Elfyn Evans at this weekend's season-ending Rally Monza.

Frenchman Ogier, 36, trails Welshman and Toyota team-mate Evans by 14 points before the rally which will end a seven-venue campaign shortened due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"At the end of the day we have all had the same chance to compete in this mini-championship and whoever comes out on top is still going to be the winner of this season," he told website Autosport.

"But, for sure, if I come out on top after the Monza rally, I will not put the same value on this title compared to the previous ones.

"We had to deal with a special situation and I would say ordinarily it is a shame that we did not manage to do a few more events, say eight or nine, because it would help it look more like a championship, but that is another question."

Ogier, who won the last of his six consecutive crowns in 2018, needs to come third or better to have any hope of stopping Evans from claiming his first title.

Evans will be guaranteed the glory if he manages to finish fourth or higher, a feat he has achieved in every race so far this term.

"The championship is still very much wide open. We're in a good position, of course, but nothing can be taken for granted," the 31-year-old Evans said.

"It's still a narrow margin as far as the battle is concerned and we're going to have to be at our best to finish the year in the position we are now," he added.

This weekend's racing near Lake Como is varied, with Friday based at Monza'sĀ Autodromo Nazionale circuit, before technical roads near Bergamo a day later.

The rally finishes with action in the dark with three stages on and near the track.

"We have very different days between Friday, Saturday and Sunday so we have to be able to adapt our driving and the car to suit those different conditions," Evans said.

Belgian Thierry Neuville is third in the overall standings with 87 points, while fourth-placed Estonian Ott Tanak needs to win the race in Italy and claim additional bonuses to hold any hope of defending his title.


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