Ogier: Sardinia punctures were not Pirelli’s fault

Powerstage flat cost him victory, but Toyota driver says it was wheel that failed, not tire


Sébastien Ogier has never been one to shy away from voicing his opinion. For a time, running order was his major gripe. More recently, it’s been Pirelli’s World Rally Championship rubber. Not so at Rally Italy Sardinia.

The eight-time champion may have lost the rally by 0.2 seconds after one of his Pirellis deflated on the powerstage, but there was no criticism on this occasion. No shot was taken at the Italian tire giant who will give way to Hankook for 2025. There was instead acknowledgement of the progress made.

Speaking after he had lost the lead to Ott Tänak on Saturday’s opening 7.5-mile Tempio-Pausania stage, Ogier recognized that the deflation that had slowed him was not the fault of the rubber on his Yaris, but of the wheel rims they were wrapped around.

“It was a big pressure over the head, of course,” he said. “It was hard to accept again after two cases in a puncture where, I mean, it’s not Pirelli’s fault, I have to say it.


Ogier was magnaminous after powerstage flat cost him what would have a been a hat-trick of wins

“It’s the wheel’s fault. It’s too weak and just a little bit bent inside. I didn’t even feel the impact, to be honest. Just on the line and then it’s made a small hole inside the wheel and then slowly losing the air.”

He went further too, making the effort to praise Pirelli for its recent advancements.

“I’m sure it’s something we need to investigate with the team because, I have to be honest, Pirelli did a good job in the last months now and improved a lot their products,” he told DirtFish. “I think they are on a good level now, and the problem is coming from our side. And that’s something that happened already a couple of times to us that needs to be improved.”

While Saturday’s puncture was a setback, it wasn’t ultimately the cause of Ogier’s defeat. During the afternoon, he pulled away from Tänak and, by day’s end, his lead was 17.1s. From there it should have been plain sailing. Ogier knows how to control a rally from the front. He’s done it more times than most of us could recall.


Pirelli rubber stood up well to the pounding it took on rough Sardinian gravel

But he dropped 10.5s on Sunday’s first two stages and, by the time the rally leader went into the 4.4-mile Sassari powerstage, the road was all but destroyed. Once again, it wasn’t a tire that let him down, but one of the Yaris’s wheel rims. Tänak’s push for Super Sunday points had given him an opportunity and, when Ogier hit trouble, the Hyundai driver was there to grab it with both hands.

In this moment of frustration, it would have been easy for adrenaline to get the better of anyone, but Ogier was again magnanimous. There was no fire, no scathing criticism, just an acknowledgement that, on this occasion, luck hadn’t been on his side.

“In the end I think I can still be happy with the weekend I’ve done in the car,” he offered. “Sometimes it doesn’t go your way. The second puncture on the weekend was one too much.”

Pirelli’s contract to supply tires for the WRC may be over at the end of 2024, but it finally appears to have earned the respect of one of its harshest critics.