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Tue 13 Dec 2022

Latvala reveals hopes for Ogier in 2023

Toyota team principal Jari-Matti Latvala would like to see more of Sébastien Ogier next season – but if he can’t see more of him, he’d like the eight-time champion not to leave it as long between his FIA World Rally Championship visits.

Ogier’s 2023 schedule has yet to be confirmed – and probably won’t be laid out before the season’s start – but two of the first three rallies are highly likely. 

“I think we can guess where my season starts,” smiled Ogier. “Monte Carlo is, of course, very special for me. After that, México is a rally where I have always been enjoying myself.”

Ogier was, of course, the last WRC winner in Guanajuato. The opportunity of the Central European Rally appeals because it’s not too far from home and something completely new, blending three countries: Germany, Czech Republic and Austria into one event. 

Beyond those three, it’s hard to know the other three or four which could tickle Ogier’s fancy. Toyota would, understandably, love to see him in Japan again at the season’s end.

Latvala’s knows of Ogier’s point-scoring capability and will welcome him wherever he can. But he doesn’t want big gaps between his WRC starts. 

This year Ogier spent four months away from WRC competition between Monte and Rally Portugal and three months between Safari and Rally New Zealand. Including NZ, he tackled the final three rounds of the season in a six-round timetable that was heavily weighted towards the end of the year.

“The number Séb is talking about,” said Latvala, “six rallies or something like this is a good number. It can be close to half the season. Of course we want him as much as possible, but six is good. 

“I would prefer that the gaps aren’t too big between the rallies. It can be difficult to get back to the car and go at the full speed immediately. When you have that gap, it can make it more complicated.”

Latvala’s theory looks strong. While Ogier was out of the car from Africa to Auckland, yet still managed to finish second down under – he was in the GR Yaris Rally1 for the next event in Spain and won.