World Rally Championship points leader Sébastien Ogier says he has “not much explanation” for the amount of time he lost on the opening day of Rally Finland, and that road position was only partly to blame.
The Toyota driver, who was first on the road, ended Friday’s six-stage route seventh in the classification and 33.6 seconds behind rally leader Craig Breen.
Crucially, Ogier was also more than 25s down on team-mate Elfyn Evans – who was second in the running order – and ahead only of the similar Yaris WRC of Takamoto Katsuta (who spun on SS2 while in the overall lead) and the M-Sport Fords of Gus Greensmith and Adrien Fourmaux.
“To be honest, I did not expect to lose that much and I have not much explanation for all the time loss,” Ogier told DirtFish.
“Of course, I’m not going for full risk, but still honestly I tried sometimes and the times were never coming, so we need to understand [why].
“Part of it is road position, but not all; Elfyn, starting just behind me, was 25 seconds faster than me on the loop, it’s a lot.
“So we need to understand it – [was it] all on me, or is it something on the car which is not working great at the moment?”
Toyota team principal Jari-Matti Latvala said he believed Ogier’s caution relative to his rivals would have contributed, and that it was likely to have been accentuated by the lower grip levels drivers are encountering on the first Rally Finland to be held in October.
“He’s thinking about the championship, and the fact is this: in Rally Finland, when you start to be a little bit careful here, boom, boom, boom. You lose time,” Latvala said of Ogier.
“Just as an example, back in 2018 on the first stage of this rally I took it a bit more carefully, I lost 10 seconds, and I just couldn’t understand why I lost it but on the second passage, when I had a little bit more attack, I was fine.
“But just being that little bit careful in Finland, especially when there is lower grip level at this time of the year, that’s where it’s coming from.”
Ogier said it was likely the frontrunners were taking more risks than him but was still puzzled by the times he was forfeited.
“Some stages I really tried, stage five honestly, I really tried – at the end when I saw I lost 7.5 seconds to Elfyn, starting just behind me, I have no explanation there, so I need to investigate a bit,” he said.
“I heard as well that they are fully committed, and the risk level is very high; maybe it’s the rhythm, but then they are going still very fast, we need to be sure.
“But we can maybe improve a bit tomorrow.”