Why Ogier is smiling for once as the Sardinian road sweeper

The Toyota driver is in third after four stages of opening the road, but he thinks the format has worked for him


World Rally Championship leader Sébastien Ogier believes he “could have hardly done more this morning” on Rally Italy as he feels he has “adapted better” to the unique format of the rally so far.

The Rally Italy organizer has chosen to run two stages repeated as its loop before service, as opposed to the more traditional format of two to four stages which are then all repeated in the afternoon. Ogier has used this format to his advantage.

He is third overall, 18.7 seconds behind leader Ott Tänak and 1.8s adrift of second-placed Dani Sordo but has been running with the caveat of being first car onto the stages. Sardinia is recognized as one of the most difficult places to sweep the stages clean, but Ogier has bucked the trend with three top three times from four stages in the morning.

“For me it’s good because if it’s usual routine with same stages, same loop everything then [with] road cleaning is so hard to compensate, especially nowadays when everyone watches videos, it’s like circuit racing so you cannot compensate,” Ogier explained to DirtFish.


“Now you go to new stages, it’s a funny loop where we do first and second pass on the same loop without service so somehow I’m happy there is this because there is always a small difference to be made in adapting better to this new situation.”

Asked more generally about his morning, Ogier added: “For sure, I think we could have hardly done more this morning. It’s been a very good loop.

“I think I’ve done a good job in the recce, had good notes and I could take risks straight away this morning and was confident in the car. I think the set-up of the car is better as well, we had a bit better test [than] before Portugal when I mentioned I couldn’t feel the car with the muddy conditions and now I had a test where I could change a bit the set-up again ann come here with more confidence.

“I think the first loop confirmed that it’s definitely working better.”

Ogier’s team-mate Elfyn Evans has absolutely no confidence whatsoever, describing his morning performance as “useless”.



Toyota had a troublesome SS4

The Rally Portugal winner is already 41.5s down on the leader in sixth place and 22.8s behind his Toyota colleague Ogier despite facing a slightly better condition of road.

“We can’t use that [road position] as an excuse as Seb dealt with it all very, very well so we really weren’t able to capitalize at least against him, and all the others,” Evans told DirtFish. “He’s [Ogier] had a very strong morning and we’ve been quite weak to be honest.

“It’s always a balance with this rally but I think it shouldn’t be this difficult to find half-decent speed. It’s not that we’re losing a few seconds here or there it’s that we’re quite a long way behind so we definitely need to improve from where we are now.”