Toyota's Ogier wins eighth world rally title

·2-min read
Sebastien Ogier won the Monza rally to pick up his eighth world title (AFP/Andreas SOLARO)

Toyota's Sebastien Ogier secured his eighth World Rally Championship title on Sunday when he finished the season with victory at the iconic Monza race track.

The Frenchman was chased all the way by Welsh driver Elfyn Evans, who was second in the season-ending rally to end the campaign 23 points behind Ogier in the standings.

Ogier needed to finish either ahead of Evans or take 13 points to be sure of the title and he wrapped it up in style, with a fifth victory of the year.

The 37-year-old and his co-driver Julien Ingrassia leapt from their Toyota Yaris at the finish line and celebrated on its roof while wearing golden helmets.

"Did we win the rally or not?," Ogier shouted, saying that in the excitement of winning the title he was not sure.

"In all the emotion, I didn't even listen to what they said on the radio. I don't know what to say -- it's amazing."

Ogier's opening run Sunday almost ended in disaster as he hit a concrete slab with his front-left wheel, which somehow continued to function.

Half a second separated the two contenders at the start of the third day, but Evans then stalled his car twice on the second stage, sending his slender title hopes smashing into the hay bales his car hit, giving up around 17 seconds.

"I locked up the brakes and couldn't get the car turned and went into the bales and stalled. We had another stall later on too," said the Welshman.

The rally, only the second to be held at Monza which stepped in last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, will also mark the final outing for the current world rally cars.

After 25 years, they will be replaced next season by cars with hybrid engines.

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