In a repeat of last season’s title decider, the race to be crowned World Rally champion involves the same two drivers, with Ogier on course to seal an eighth crown as things currently stand after eleven of sixteen stages.

Ogier leads his Toyota team-mate by 5.2 seconds but knows a top-three finish is all that is required of him and co-driver Julien Ingrassia this weekend.

The Frenchman regained top spot on this morning’s opening test – ‘San Fermo’ – before losing it to Evans on the next, the 15.49-miles of ‘Selvino’.

Ogier hit back on the second pass through ‘San Fermo’ and extended his buffer by 4.1 seconds on the final stage before lunchtime service at Monza circuit.

Giving his views on the tit-for-tat battle that is being played out in Italy, Latvala said it was one that fans from all camps could savour.

In 2019, Ott Tanak wrapped up the title with a round to spare at Rally Spain, with Ogier doing likewise in 2017 at Wales Rally GB and again in 2016, albeit on the antepenultimate event of that year’s WRC.

“It is all go, and the excitement is there,” said Latvala, who only needs Ogier, Evans or his third driver Kalle Rovanpera to come home inside the top seven places to prize the manufacturers’ trophy away from Hyundai Motorsport.

“It is a great fight between Elfyn and Seb; all the time it is like one stage Seb is faster, the next stage Elfyn is faster and the same thing goes on all the time. But this is great to see."

Latvala said despite not needing a fifth win of 2021 to defend his number one status, Ogier is very much focussed on ending his time as a full-time WRC driver on a high.

"When you are driving for the Championship and at the same time you drive for the victory," said the former M-Sport Ford and Volkswagen pilot.

“For sure, that is best for the sport but for sure, on my side, I am really looking forward to getting that manufacturers’ championship title, so I have to be careful that we get those boys back [to the finish] - but it is looking quite good at the minute.

“Seb knows how to win a Championship - he has already won so any Championships - but he also wants to win the Championship with the victory and really finish on a high.

"You can see in his eyes how determined he is now to really fight for the victory," added Latvala