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Tue 04 Jun 2024

Latvala: ‘Karma’ cost Ogier victory in Italy

Toyota team principal Jari-Matti Latvala believes that karma was at play during last week’s Rally Italia Sardegna, where Sébastien Ogier was deprived of victory in the very last stage.

Ogier was within touching distance of claiming his third consecutive FIA World Rally Championship victory when his GR Yaris Rally1 car’s front-left tire began leaking air. Despite his best efforts, the Frenchman lost out to Hyundai rival Ott Tänak by two-tenths of a second in the joint-closest finish in WRC history.

Sassari – Argentiera, which formed the rally-ending Wolf Power Stage, has been responsible for no end of drama over the years.

In 2018, Thierry Neuville stole victory by 0.7sec after outpacing Ogier, who was driving for M-Sport Ford at the time, by 1.5sec on the stage. A year later when Tänak was at Toyota, a mid-stage power steering failure denied the Estonian a seemingly guaranteed win.

Latvala himself has been on the other side of the ledger as a driver. In 2011 at the Jordan Rally, Ogier beat the Finn by 0.2sec.

“It’s funny how this life goes sometimes,” Latvala said. “We have experienced this with Ott Tänak back in 2019. He had a steering problem, so he lost the victory.

“Tänak has lost a victory on this stage [in the past], and today he got it back. Ogier has beaten me by 0.2 – and today he lost it.

“The things you experience and the things that you gain, one day you have to give them back. That’s life.”

Latvala remained happy with the speed shown by his fleet of cars. Runner-up Ogier led for 12 of the 16 stages, while Elfyn Evans claimed a single fastest time on his way to a fourth-place finish. Takamoto Katsuta ran as high as third on Saturday before retiring with a broken transmission.

“Generally, I think the performance, if you look at the car, has been good,” Latvala affirmed. “For the driving, let’s say that Taka was a bit unlucky with the transmission and Elfyn wasn’t at his best here. But we could see that, when Séb was attacking, the car was working well.

“Normally, this last stage, Sassari-Argentiera, hasn’t been the best for us. Generally, Hyundai has always been quite good on these kinds of soft, rutted sectors, but for the rest, I think the car was good.”