Ogier: Rovanpera's first title was an inevitability

Sebastien Ogier feels the way in which Toyota Gazoo Racing team-mate Kalle Rovanpera won this year’s World Rally Championship title bore all the hallmarks of “a great champion”.
Ogier: Rovanpera's first title was an inevitability

Rovanpera visited the top step of the podium last time out in New Zealand to take his victory count for the season to six with rounds in Spain and Japan remaining and, in the process, was crowned the youngest winner of the mixed surface series at 22 years and one day.

To cap off a memorable weekend in which Rovanpera celebrated his birthday with dad Harri, he punched in the quickest time on the end-of-event Power Stage to net an extra five points to take his advantage over Hyundai Motorsport’s Ott Tanak in the standings to 64.

Ogier – a champion of the World Rally Championship with Volkswagen Motorsport, M-Sport Ford and Toyota Gazoo Racing respectively – was among the first to offer warm words of congratulations to the talented Finn.

“It is fantastic for Kalle, Jonne and for the whole team,” said the Frenchman, who has been dividing his time this year between selected World Rally Championship rounds, outings with Richard Mille Racing in the LMP2 class of the World Endurance Championship, and family commitments.

“It has been an amazing season from him and it was only a matter of time. He did it in style last weekend and I think that’s the mark of a great champion,” he added.

Ogier led Repco Rally New Zealand for a time on the opening day before damage to the rear spoiler on his GR Yaris Rally1 car resulted in him dropping back down the order.

However, smart driving, coupled with time penalties for Hyundai Motorsport’s Ott Tanak and the retirement of Elfyn Evans following a sizeable shunt early on Saturday, aided his fightback to second position.

“I can take a lot of satisfaction from the weekend,” continued Ogier. “It was a nice comeback after three months away, on a challenging rally with faster roads than those I’ve driven this season and with really tricky conditions.

“Kalle was untouchable in those difficult conditions like he has been many times this season. I realised it was not the moment to take crazy risks as I’m here to help the team, and we are also getting very close to the manufacturers’ championship.”

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