Here’s an interesting one for you.
You’re Jari-Matti Latvala, sitting in Toyota’s command center at Monza on Sunday morning. Elfyn Evans is leading the rally, you’re happy about that. Kalle Rovanperä is sixth with Sébastien Ogier half a minute behind him. And, here’s the spin, there’s a chance the powerstage might not happen.
As things stand, Evans takes the title by two points. If you step in and tell Rovanperä to slow down and let his senior team-mate Ogier up to sixth place, the drivers are tied on 212 points each.
Ogier’s champion because he’s won four rallies compared with Evans’ three.
None of the above is actually going to happen, of course. Latvala’s Toyota team has maintained a policy of zero team orders all season and that’s not going to change now.
And neither would Ogier want it to. Ogier is a driver who likes to do things his own way, he’s never been somebody who’s wanted something handing to him on a plate.
So, swapping Rovanperä and Ogier in this extremely hypothetical scenario wouldn’t happen, but the difference in classification between Evans and Ogier might happen.
Evans and Ogier have very different agendas this week. Evans needs the win. Ogier needs a sensible finish.
It’s going to be a nice rally, it’s nice to end an era in this sport with two drivers fightingAndrea Adamo
The one team which could play a significant role in the direction of the drivers’ championship is Hyundai Motorsport. Should Thierry Neuville, Dani Sordo and Teemu Suninen – and potentially Oliver Solberg – pack themselves into the top five, that could make things lively.
But Hyundai team principal Andrea Adamo says that’s not on his agenda this week.
“We are there to do our rally,” he told DirtFish. “We are not planning to play this game to help this driver or that. No. We are going to Monza to win the rally, it’s why we do this sport. That’s our job.
“If you are asking me who will win, on one side I don’t care, but on the other side – as a rally fan – whoever wins will deserve it. I have so much respect for both of them,” he added.
“Whoever it is that says Ogier has been lucky this year, I ask them to put their ass in these cars and then go to manage the rallies in the way he has done. Then they will answer that this is not luck.
“It’s going to be a nice rally, it’s nice to end an era in this sport with two drivers fighting. It’s like in 1986 with Group B when we had [Juha] Kankkunen and [Markku] Alén making the fight.
“Like I say, it’s a nice rally, the end of an era and we are going there to win.”
If Hyundai did win this week, Evans can still afford to be as low as third to win the title but that would mean relying on Ogier collecting little or no points at all.