The Frenchmen call time on their careers in style by sweeping a remarkable eighth FIA World Rally Championship title in nine seasons!
Three days of challenging speed tests in the foothills of the Italian Alps and at Monza’s iconic Temple of Speed circuit, as predicted, culminated on an emotional high! The WRC bandwagon arrived in Italy for the ultimate showdown with the title fight wide open – a 17-point gap was all that separated Toyota teammates Sébastien Ogier and Elfyn Evans at the top of the points ladder, with the latter chasing.
By the end of Day 1, Evans claimed the overnight lead by a slim margin of 1.4 seconds over Ogier. And, by the end of Day 2, both were nearly neck and neck, but with Ogier in the lead this time by only half a second. The outcome though was decided when Evans spun in the penultimate speed test, allowing Ogier to win by 7.3 seconds and claim a record eighth WRC title in nine seasons.
The win was the fifth of the season for Ogier and Ingrassia, after victories in Monte Carlo, Croatia, Sardinia and Kenya. It was their 54th WRC win together in what was the final event of their full-time careers – Ogier will contest a part-time schedule with Toyota Gazoo Racing in 2022 while Ingrassia steps out of the co-driver’s seat after a highly-successful career. Meanwhile, Evans and co-driver Scott Martin secured the fifth Toyota one-two of the season, and finished runners-up in the championship for the second year in a row, after victories in Portugal and Finland. Their 1-2 finish also 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.
‘It’s so hard to describe these emotions. Somehow, you feel empty because it’s been such an exhausting season like always, where you need to put so much into it to win the championship. But we do it for moments like this. A big thanks to all the team members: Without them, we are nothing and today we are all world champions…the emotion is even stronger knowing it’s the end of my journey with Julien. We could never have dreamed of a better way for it to end it,’ said an ecstatic and emotional Ogier.
The 2021 ACI Rally Monza also marked the end of the World Rally Car era after 25 seasons. This was the 26th and final victory achieved by the outgoing car before WRC enters a new era, with the all-new hybrid-powered Rally1 cars set to debut in 2022.