Sébastien Ogier has put pen to paper on a new one-year contract with Toyota Gazoo Racing that will keep him in the FIA World Rally Championship in 2021.
The Frenchman, who is bidding for a seventh world title at next month’s ACI Rally Monza (3 – 6 December), had previously announced he would retire from the WRC at the end of 2020 after a single season with the Japanese manufacturer.
The impact of Covid-19, which has truncated this year’s WRC campaign, prompted Ogier to rethink his plans and he confirmed on Friday (20 November) afternoon that he will stay with Toyota for a further year.
“We have had a short season with only a few rallies, but enough for me to see that I really enjoy working with the team, I enjoy driving this car,” Ogier said.
“It was not my initial plan but I think this year has been very particular for everybody on this planet, and the fact that I had to spend like most people a lot of time at home this year, I didn’t do the last season that I had expected to do and to end my career with such a strange season was not great.
“So, for sure, that was one of the reasons to change my mind about my retirement. The plan is to keep pushing in 2021 and hopefully have a better, normal season and try to push for a last title.”
Ogier joined Toyota Gazoo Racing after a disappointing campaign with Citroën Racing in 2019.
He began with second place at Rallye Monte-Carlo on his Yaris World Rally Car debut and won in Mexico on his third start. Further podiums in Estonia and Italy mean he heads into the season finale 14 points behind team-mate Elfyn Evans in the fight for the drivers’ title.
Ogier has also been influential in Toyota’s bid to wrestle back the manufacturer’s title. Toyota is seven points behind leaders Hyundai ahead of the final round.
“Definitely the potential for winning rallies and winning championships is there, so that’s everything a rally driver is looking for. I think all the ingredients are here so now just let’s do it, and I’m looking forward already for the next season,” added Ogier.
The announcement means Toyota’s 2021 line-up is complete as both Evans and Kalle Rovanperä have a further year remaining on their contracts. Japan’s Takamoto Katsuta is expected to continue his TGR Rally Challenge Program in another Yaris.