This weekend, Rally Monza served as the season finale for the FIA World Rally Championship for the second consecutive year. This event will be remembered as the end of an era for a few reasons. One reason is that new cars utilizing hybrid powertrains will contest the WRC season next year. Another reason is this rally was the final event for Sébastien Ogier as a full-time WRC competitor.
Ogier entered the northern Italian finale leading the drivers’ championship by 17 points over his Toyota teammate Elfyn Evans. With a maximum of 30 points available for a combined rally and power stage victory, scoring 15 points with a third-place finish would have been good enough for Ogier to retire as champion regardless of how Evans performed. However, Ogier wasn’t settling for just a solid points haul.
Evans and Ogier fought each other tooth and nail over the three-day course of Rally Monza. The lead changed hands between the duo five times on Saturday. And on the final day, Ogier nearly lost the rally and the championship. He clipped a concrete barrier on the Monza banking with the front right wheel of his Toyota Yaris. The tire stayed intact, and Ogier made it to the end of the stage.
Evans effectively lost the championship with a spin on Sunday’s second stage. He finished the penultimate stage over seven seconds behind Ogier in the classification with only the power stage remaining. Evans beat Ogier on the final stage, but only by three-tenths of a second.
Sébastien Ogier won Rally Monza and the World Rally Championship. He finishes his full-time career with 54 victories and eight championships, second all-time in both categories. Only second is his compatriot Sébastien Loeb. Ogier will return next season to contest a part-time schedule with only a single event confirmed so far, the season-opening Rallye Monte Carlo.