With the Sunday morning mist still rolling back from all corners of the Ardennes, Sébastien Ogier stepped out of his Toyota Yaris WRC and stretched. The drive from one end of Belgium to the other hadn’t been ideal. But it had been worth it.
Welcome to Spa-Francorchamps. Welcome to one of the world’s fastest and most daunting racetracks.
Ogier was all about his day job during this month’s Ypres Rally, but he had an eye to the future at Spa.
“If I want to go racing on track,” Ogier told DirtFish, “this is one of the tracks I have to go to – it’s a very exciting one. I’ve never been here or tested here before so it’s interesting to come.”
Rally cars on a racetrack have always been a bone of contention. They’re out of context, but the eighth round of the World Rally Championship demonstrated that they can still make a show.
Hitting the bottom of the hill into Eau Rouge’s sweeping right-hander, Ogier’s Yaris WRC was bouncing off the limiter in top gear.
“With our rally cars, it’s a little bit slow on the track, that’s for sure,” he said.
Rewind to the same place on May 1 and Toyota Gazoo Racing are similarly busy at Spa. But this time the #8 Toyota GR010 Hybrid is covering the same ground a touch quicker. Instead of diving in and out of the lap, Ogier’s colleagues Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Brendon Hartley are covering the full 4.352 miles in just over two minutes.
With the Ypres Rally not scoring as a WRC round for the next two years, it’s almost certain Ogier won’t be back in a Yaris WRC. The next time we see him at Spa, it could well be behind the wheel of a hypercar.
Asked if the plan was to come back at the wheel of a race car, Ogier said: “I hope. I don’t know if it’s next year, or the year after, but at some point, for sure, I really hope – that’s the plan I have in mind.”
If or when that happens, Ogier’s likely to find himself spending less time on the limiter. And even less time pulling 120mph on the circuit’s perimeter roads.