It is a fact that this season, the WRC 2021, is the last full time for 7 times world champion Sébastien Ogier. Or maybe not. At the end of the last event of the season, the driver who by right falls into the category of the greatest ever in the category, will dedicate himself not only to the World Rally, but also to other things. However, there are those who are ready to argue that there are still possibilities to convince him to do another full year.
This someone is certainly not an ordinary person. It is Jari-Matti Latvala, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC team principal, who has replaced Tommi Makinen at the head of the Japanese team this year.
The former driver and now manager of Toyota has kept open a window that, even if it is small, makes the fans dream and the opponents tremble. Ogier intends to make no more than half a season as a starter from 2022, but Latvala still hopes to be able to convince him and re-propose him as Toyota’s spearhead in the first year of the WRC hybrid era.
“Never say never. That Ogier will remain racing throughout the year even in 2022 is a possibility, but it is small,” Jari-Matti Latvala told Motorsport.com. “I think Ogier looks like Loeb. I think he wants to experience something else having already seen him racing in the Porsche Carrera Cup and I think he has also tried a Formula 1. I think he has the opportunity to race in other series as well.”
“I think he has an interest in doing something else and that is why he is considering racing in the WRC for only half a season in 2022. Never say never, but at the moment it looks like he may only be involved in the WRC for half a season.”
Latvala spoke in a realistic way: Ogier was clear, he let the team know what his plans for the future are, beyond how the current season will end, which sees him leading the Drivers’ World Championship in front of teammate Elfyn Evans.
“We talked to Sébastien. He clearly said he doesn’t want to do a full season next year. The intention is to do a half season or something at the moment.”
Should Ogier confirm his intention to race only part of the next World Rally Championship, Toyota will be forced to find another level crew to entrust him with the Yaris GR that Ogier will release in the races he will not compete. The Japanese team’s goal is to keep all the current drivers, therefore Evans, Rovanpera and Katsuta. The latter is still expected to be employed for the entire season and he won’t be the one to take Ogier’s place when and if he misses.
“We will certainly try to have Ogier for half of the season. Then, if that is the case, we will need another rider who can race in Sébastien’s place when he is not available. We need to understand what the 2022 calendar will be like, then we can make a decision.” Latvala concluded.