Rally Spain 2022: Sébastien Ogier takes a walk in Catalonia

Sébastien Ogier (Toyota) has won the Rally Spain WRC for the fourth time this Sunday. The Frenchman defeated Thierry Neuville (Hyundai), winner in the two previous editions, by 16.4 seconds. Kalle Rovanperä finished third, 34.5 seconds behind his French teammate, on his first race as the youngest champion in World Rally Championship history. 

The Scandinavian, who won this season in Rovanperä win in Sweden, Croatia, Portugal, Kenya, Estonia & New Zealand, has at no point pushed his bike hard enough to threaten Ogier’s lead. Thanks to that double podium, both teammates have earned Toyota its second consecutive constructors’ title with one race remaining in the championship. 

Ott Tänak (Hyundai), onboard his i20 N, has finished one place below (+44 seconds) after staying in no man’s land during most of the rally and crossing the finish line ahead of his teammate Dani Sordo. The Spaniard was one minute and sixteen seconds behind the winner, missing the podium position that he got in 2021. He has also put an end to his streak of six consecutive podium finishes, the last three in the current season. 

Sordo has, in any case, taken several stages and grown in quality and strength throughout the course of the weekend. He can be optimistic ahead of the final rally in Japan, also on asphalt, although he would have liked to give a better performance in what could be his farewell rally at home. 

 No one can take Ogier by surprise 

Ogier started the final day with a 20.7-second lead against Neuville, but the rally veteran didn’t allow this advantage to get to his head and was mindful of any possible surprises from his rivals. During the final four stages, the Frenchman controlled the situation and managed his advantage as only an eight-time WRC champion knows how to. But that was not enough, the pilot from Gap went for the icing on the cake at the Spanish Rally 2022 and took the last two stages, very much to the delight of his unconditional fans. 

Despite his 38 years of age, he was in top form during the tarmac super special of Tarragona. Nobody has been able to unseat him from the first position that he took from Neuville on Friday’s fifth stage. From that moment on, he delivered his umpteenth master class on the winding Catalan roads as evidenced by his eight scratches out of nineteen during this, the penultimate round of the championship. 

The key to his success was his prodigious performance on Saturday. During that second day of racing, he clenched his fists to increase his lead from 4.2 to 20.7 seconds, an advantage that he would carry to the final day to use in his fight against Neuville. 

The Belgian driver had little to do in the face of such a portentous performance, but he didn’t give up the fight until the final meters. His i20 N Rally 1, however, was not up to the task of a third consecutive win in Salou. 

 This victory, Ogier’s first since Monza in 2021, breaks an eleven-month winning drought. The Frenchman has claimed his usual place in the WRC back with the 55th victory of his career. Unsurprisingly, there is much speculation about his return to the World Rally Championship with a full-time programme:

It is fantastic to get another win. It was an important weekend for the team. It is not always easy to achieve such good results. A fantastic job one more time so congratulations to Toyota Gazoo Racing”. 

Images of Rally Spain WRC 2022: Toyota GAZOO Racing.

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