Mon 05 Sep 2022

Ogier confirms New Zealand return

WRC legend Sébastien Ogier will field a Toyota GR Yaris at Repco Rally New Zealand later this month (29 September - 2 October).

The eight-time world champion has been driving for the Japanese manufacturer on a part-time basis this season - alternating drives with flying Finn Esapakka Lappi, who will contest this week’s EKO Acropolis Rally Greece.

However, Ogier confirmed yesterday (Sunday) that he will be back in the hot seat as New Zealand returns to the FIA World Rally Championship calendar for the first time in 11 years. 

“Rally New Zealand was on the top of the list of rallies that I wanted to do this year,” explained Ogier. “I have only done this rally once before, but the rally itself is really beautiful. 

"[New Zealand's] roads are one of the best in the world for rallying and I fell in love with the diverse and beautiful nature of the country,” he added.

Ogier’s one and only New Zealand start came in 2010. Contesting his second full season for Citroën’s top-tier Junior Team, the Frenchman was on course to clinch his maiden WRC rally win before a spin in the final stage handed victory to Jari-Matti Latvala. 

“It was tough to take back in 2010 because I was chasing my first win,” recounted the 38-year-old. “It is always a very important step in your career. I was lucky that three weeks later I had my first win at Rally Portugal so I did not have to wait too long.

“There is still some unfinished business in New Zealand and that’s another reason to come back. Even if I am not competing full-time, I expect to be competitive and hopefully enjoy more victories in the future.

“The roads there are magic to drive. In Europe, we do not have this camber on the roads where you are dancing along the road and it has a nice flow to drive. That is so attractive to a rally driver.”

The rally itinerary was issued last month and the hub of New Zealand’s first WRC counter since 2012 is Auckland’s waterfront, where the service park is based.

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