Wed 29 Mar 2023

Latvala won’t say no to more rallies for Ogier

Toyota Gazoo Racing team principal Jari-Matti Latvala has left the door open for Sébastien Ogier to contest more WRC rallies than originally planned this season.

Eight-time world champion Ogier currently drives on a part-time basis for the Japanese manufacturer squad, picking and choosing selected events which fit around his personal schedule. The Frenchman is expected to do around seven rallies this year.

However, after winning all two rounds he has started so far, Ogier finds himself leading the championship by three points ahead of next month’s Croatia Rally (20 - 23 April), which he will also take part in.

Latvala, an 18-time rally winner himself, has hinted at the possibility of Ogier competing in more rallies in pursuit of his ninth drivers' title.

“You never know,” Latvala said. “I won’t try to push [him], because if you push too much it can go in the wrong direction. It needs to come from Séb himself and he needs to be really sure about it.

“I am a little bit thinking, you know - at the beginning, he said [he will do] seven events, and of course we know that he is a really strong asset for the team. Why not maybe do a few more? You never know.”

When Ogier isn’t present, GR Yaris hotshot Takamoto Katsuta takes up the reins in the team’s third points-scoring car, a role he carried out for the first time at Rally Sweden in February.

According to Latvala, Ogier could be called up to replace the Japanese youngster on selected events if required.

“We can look to monitor the championship and we know that we have Séb in the team, so that is really good,” continued Latvala.

“Obviously Taka is in a new position and there might be some rallies where we feel we don’t want to put too much pressure on him, then of course we have Séb there and, if he is interested, he could do it. I think it’s really good for both of them.”

Ogier’s victory at Guanajuato Rally México earlier this month helped Toyota extend its lead in the manufacturers’ championship to 27 points over Hyundai.

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