Why Ogier had to serve a one-minute penalty

Sébastien Ogier remains second but left service six minutes late, incurring a one-minute time penalty


Sébastien Ogier will start his Rally Japan Saturday with a one minute penalty after the Toyota team was forced to make emergency repairs to his GR Yaris Rally1 on Friday night.

Ogier ran wide and hit a barrier on the second run through the Isegami’s Tunnel test. While the resultant damage to the driver’s door looked relatively innocuous, the FIA required a repair to the car’s space frame chassis.

Toyota technical director Tom Fowler explained the situation to DirtFish.

“During the full inspection of the car back in the technical zone here in service, it was deemed with the FIA that we needed to make a repair to the chassis,” he said.

“There was some damage to the space frame where the FIA required us to exchange a tube – which is a really big job.”

The team cut out the damaged tube and welded in a new section of steel – and did it in record time. Fowler praised the team’s work in hitting its target of containing any lateness within a minute’s penalty.

“The car came into service as early as possible and we started the work as early as possible. We knew we had to do it in 45 minutes, but that was always a really big ask. We actually had a little bit of margin with his second place and the target was to maintain his position in the rally.

“It was huge piece of work from the mechanics to do that. He has his safety cage back as the FIA require it to be and now he can go again in the morning.”

With Ogier’s penalty applied, team-mate Kalle Rovanperä is now just 16.7 seconds behind the Frenchman.

“We have an interesting Saturday ahead of us,” smiled Fowler.

Sensing the next question, with Toyota running 1-2-3 on its home round of the WRC, Fowler added: “You know Toyota’s team position on this and that position very rarely deviates. We want to see them go and race each other and the best driver needs to take the highest position.

“That’s how we roll.”


Fowler admitted Toyota’s policy of letting the crews race with no team orders wasn’t exactly stress-free.

“It gives us an incredibly hard time,” he said. “Look how many rallies there’s been where we’ve had some terribly stressful Sundays with the amount of risk our drivers have taken.

“I’m thinking to Safari as probably the one… we were 1-2-3-4 there and still they were battling right up until the last minute with a huge level of risk.

“The rest of this week and will be no different.”