Sébastien Ogier was never supposed to be returning to World Rally Championship action next week. Croatia Rally wasn’t in the eight-time world champion’s plan.
But things change fast at the front of the WRC. Indeed, Ogier leading the championship despite staying home while the rest duked it out in Sweden probably wasn’t part of his plan either!
Ogier’s revelation at the end of México’s powerstage that he would be back in Zagreb did raise a few eyebrows in León though. Although Ogier won on his only visit, spending the afternoon in the police station (after that road traffic accident on the final morning) will hardly spark the best of memories for him.
In a program where he’s only contesting half the rallies, it wouldn’t have been a surprise if Ogier chose to sit out Croatia as he did 12 months ago.
But, together with his Toyota team, it was felt that wasn’t the best option.
“To be honest, earlier in the season, at the beginning, we didn’t plan Croatia,” Ogier began.
“But that was more than coming with the discussion with the team and regarding the fact that my Tarmac performance recently was pretty good.”
Wins in Spain last year and Monte Carlo this year, coupled to rally-winning pace that was spoiled by a puncture in Japan, mean Ogier is very much the form man on the black stuff right now.
Over the last three asphalt rallies, he’s picked up 68 points – a tally only Thierry Neuville can get close to with 66.
And given he leads the championship, Ogier will start Croatia Rally first on the road which should prove to be the best place too.
Yet again, there’s plenty in Ogier’s favor as he goes chasing a third victory from four rallies in 2023.