The Toyota Gazoo Racing duo were embroiled in an enthralling battle at the final round in Italy this weekend, with both leading the event on several occasions before Ogier ran out the winner. The turning point came on the penultimate test when Evans stalled his Yaris twice, the first as the result of a lock-up.

Before their Toyota days, Evans and Ogier shared the same garage at M-Sport Ford in 2017 and 2018; in those two seasons, the Frenchman secured title number five and six driving the Fiesta WRC. Witnessing first hand how those trophies were won, and the fine margins that are often involved, has given Evans a unique perspective.

“With Seb I learned more from the defeats and being around him,” explained Evans. “I also learned during my time at M-Sport that there are times to copy and times to do your own thing also. You naturally learn from having someone of that calibre and so successful around you.”

With Ogier only expected to make a cameo appearance in 2022 after indicating in recent weeks he wishes to pursue his love of sports car racing, all eyes will be on Evans who has more starts than Kalle Rovanpera and Esapekka Lappi.

On the subject of being perceived as the new number one in the Toyota camp, Evans added: “First of all, I don’t think there is a lead position within Toyota. I think people assume because I am the driver with more experience that I end up leading the team.

“But I think what makes the team so strong is that everyone gets the same opportunity. I think that drives the team forward and I am happy the team will continue like that next year. I work very well with Kalle. I have not worked so much with EP but I have had some contact with him and Seb will also remain part of it, so from my side nothing is changing and I am happy to work with the team.”

With Ogier and Evans finishing one-two, it also handed Toyota the manufacturers' title, ending two years of domination by Hyundai Motorsport. The last time the Japanese marque lifted the trophy Team Principal Jari-Matti Latvala was battling for points on the stages.

"Previously, when the Manufacturers’ Championship went to Toyota in 2018 in Australia and I won it as a driver," said the Finn. "Now winning the same as the team principal we have had an amazing season with nine victories, Seb, Julien, Elfyn and Scott - one-two in the championship. You cannot ask for more. It’s a perfect season that I could never dream of."

He added: "We have been working so hard to claim the manufacturers’ championship and the drivers’ and co-drivers’ championships all at the same time. I am so grateful for the team.

"We have such a fantastic team with great people and the best drivers in the championship. I’m really proud of all the team members and the crews. This is also a brilliant way to finish this era with these cars, and to have won nine rallies this year is amazing.”