While much of the focus at this week’s ACI Rally Monza (3 – 6 December) is on Saturday’s mountain stages, FIA World Rally Championship challenger Sébastien Ogier has warned against taking the circuit-based tests for granted.
The Frenchman is competing at Monza for the first time and is wary of what the track action could bring as the curtain falls on this year’s WRC.
“It’s not going to be an easy rally,” said Ogier. “It’s a new challenge, an event I have never done before. I’ve been watching some videos and I think the stages at the circuit won’t be as easy as they seem initially. There are some sections on gravel, even on grass or mud, and with a car set up for asphalt that’s never easy.”
The good news for Ogier comes on Saturday, when the rally heads to terrain more similar to the roads he grew up on and came to dominate around Gap on Rallye Monte-Carlo.
But again, he’s guarded, given the higher altitude, potential for wintry weather and a lack of seat time in an asphalt-specification Yaris World Rally Car.
“The stages on Saturday look like pretty nice mountain roads,” said Ogier. “They could also be very challenging depending on the weather conditions. We haven’t really driven the car on asphalt since Monte Carlo, so the testing last week has been very important to get as much experience as possible.”
After a day in the Yaris ahead of the event, Ogier is ready to push for a second win of the season and a potential seventh title.
“I feel like I have nothing to lose so I don’t feel any pressure and I’m just doing my best to be as ready as I can be,” said Ogier who starts the event 14 points adrift of team-mate Elfyn Evans.
Full coverage from ACI Rally Monza will be available on WRC+ All Live here, including every stage broadcast as it happens as well as key interviews, features and expert analysis from the service park.