Despite DirtFish’s repeated attempts to get defending champion Ott Tänak to tip Elfyn Evans or Sébastien Ogier as his 2020 replacement, the Estonian’s not playing ball.
Starting this week’s Rally Monza finale, his chances are remote – he’s 28 points behind. But he still believes.
“You want me to bet on who’s going to win the championship?” Tänak asked DirtFish.
“OK, then I will put my money on myself! I know I have won one championship, but I want another one.”
The question to Evans and Ogier was a simple one: hunter or hunted. Evans starts 14 points ahead of the Yaris WRC of his six-time world champion team-mate, meaning a weekend score of 17 points would secure a maiden crown no matter what Ogier does.
Evans could do that without having to rely on powerstage points either by winning the rally or finishing runner-up, while the title would also be his were he to finish third overall and place fourth or higher on the powerstage.
Ogier, meanwhile, needs to outscore Evans by 15 points to claim the title, or by 14 if he wins the rally – as his second-place finish on the Monte Carlo Rally would help him trump Evans on countback were they to end up level on points.
“I’ve not been in this position before, but I’m sure any of my rivals would take an advantage over a deficit,” said Evans.
“But I’m probably the one who is going to look less impressive if I come away from here without success.
“It’s just another rally, it’s part of the championship and we just have to go and do the best we can and forget about the rest of it.”
Ogier’s been here before and while he maintains the pressure is on the driver sitting squarely between the cross hairs, he admits he’d quite like to have a target on his back.
“The pressure is on Elfyn this week,” said Ogier. “All I can do is go to win the rally.
“It won’t be any easy rally to win, but I have to aim for the big points. Like I said, the pressure is on him, but I would prefer to be in his position with that pressure… and those 14 points in the pocket.”
Tänak starts the weekend fourth in the drivers’ championship, with Hyundai team-mate Thierry Neuville four points up the road, 24 behind Evans.
Both will need to win to have any chance of claiming the title – in Tänak’s case he also needs three bonus points just to stay in the reckoning – while a seventh-place finish for Evans would be enough to prevent a maiden title going the way of a Hyundai driver.
It’s also worth noting that Evans loses every tiebreak scenario where the other driver wins Rally Monza.
Check out the full list of scenarios in which Evans can win the title: