Sébastien Ogier scored his first win of the 2022 World Rally Championship season on Rally Spain, 11 months after his last victory on Monza Rally – but feels it should have come sooner had luck gone his way.
Toyota’s outgoing world champion is on a part-time program this season, sharing his seat with Esapekka Lappi, with Spain his fifth round of the season.
He led most of the way in Spain and remained in control throughout, with neither his own team-mate Kalle Rovanperä nor Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville able to mount a sustained challenge for the top spot.
But Ogier felt the win was somewhat overdue after a near-miss on the Monte Carlo Rally, where he’d lost the lead on the penultimate stage with a puncture, and also on Safari Rally Kenya where a puncture knocked him out of the lead fight.
Ogier told DirtFish: “I think we were missing a little bit of luck on my side on a couple of events but finally one weekend where everything works for us, the feeling with the Yaris was just amazing and I could really feel at one and do what I want with the car.
“It’s not so often in old age that you manage to make some wins like this with such dominance, so I think can be happy with that,” he joked.
DirtFish put to him that it had been a bit of a wait for his latest victory and that perhaps he’d been missing that winning feeling – but again Ogier was quick to point out that, in his mind, it shouldn’t have been this long anyway.
“I think it was mainly missing luck that I didn’t win earlier,” he reaffirmed. “Obviously Monte and then many events afterwards; Kenya, things like this.
“It was not necessarily a big miss [not to win] but of course it’s nice to basically get that off the question. Especially for you guys, journalists, who always follow exactly what happened!
“But most important is that I had a lot of fun this weekend.”
Ogier said he was also glad to get the win for the sake of co-driver Benjamin Veillas, who replaced the retired Julien Ingrassia in the navigator’s seat at the start of the year.
For Veillas, missing out on Monte had been a difficult experience and Spain was a long-overdue first win, according to Ogier.
“For him it’s been tough to accept in Monte, to lose this win on the very last moment with a very unlucky puncture. Now he has his first win and he can relax and celebrate tonight,” Ogier added.
Ogier will remain aboard the third GR Yaris Rally1 for the season finale, Rally Japan. He is still the most recent winner there 12 years ago, albeit when the rally ran on gravel roads and was based in Hokkaido.
Japan’s WRC return is now being hosted in the Aichi prefecture, which is also home to Toyota headquarters, and uses asphalt roads.