We’ve all been there. It’s that moment when you have to stand at the front of the class and show your homework. Good? Bad? Indifferent?
Toyota technical director Tom Fowler will find out how his long days and longer nights at the books have paid off when Sébastien Ogier gets behind the wheel of a Toyota Yaris Rally1 for the first time on Saturday.
“It really is a bit like that,” Fowler told DirtFish. “We’ve had mixed, but generally positive feedback from Elfyn [Evans] and Kalle [Rovanperä] already, but now we want to see what Séb thinks. How do I feel? I think it would be a combination of excitement and nerves.
“It’ll be great to get him in the car and driving. When you bring a new car like this, you’re always on tenterhooks until they come through that first proper run. Obviously Sébastien is the driver with the most experience in the team and his voice is really important.”
Ogier was scheduled to drive the hybrid Yaris for the first time last month, but Evans’ crash put that initial outing back until this weekend.
Ogier will kick-start a week of testing in the French Alps for the world champions.
The eight-time champion will start next month’s Monte Carlo Rally in one of four factory Toyotas – with Evans, Rovanperä and Takamoto Katsuta in the other cars. The season opener is the only confirmed outing for Ogier so far.
Talking about the remainder of 2022 for Ogier team principal Jari-Matti Latvala told DirtFish: “We have been discussing this, but he couldn’t give a completely clear answer. I am assuming he would want to do some rallies where he could benefit from the road position. In my opinion, Sardinia and New Zealand could be interesting for him.
“Nobody has been to New Zealand for a long time, so that would be interesting, but I’m pretty sure he doesn’t want to do the Estonia or Finland rallies. This is only my opinion after talking to him quite briefly.
“He wants a break and then think more about these things.”
Latvala admitted the season closer in Toyota’s backyard could be a good way for Ogier to sign-off 2022.
“Rally Japan will be really important for us,” he added. “I think, for sure, Toyota would be very keen to see him in Japan. Let’s see what he does with World Endurance Championship and see how that fits to the [WRC] calendar.
“If he wants a break, Monte, then Croatia [in April], Sardinia [in June], New Zealand in September and Japan in November gives quite a nice break between.”