Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Sebastien Ogier who took victory in the opening rally of the 2021 FIA World Rally Championship season last month in Monte Carlo, recording his eighth Monaco win and is hoping to carry this momentum forward to the Arctic Rally Finland.
“We should have proper winter conditions for Arctic Rally Finland, which will be quite a contrast to what we have seen in the WRC in the last few years. When I tested in the area around Rovaniemi last week I enjoyed it a lot: I felt happy with the car and I think we are ready. We just have to wait and see how the conditions are for us opening the road, as usually this can play a big role on snow rallies like this. After last year I know to expect tough competition from my team-mates in these conditions – I’m sure Elfyn will be very motivated and Kalle probably even more so on home ground – but also from the other teams as well. So I expect it will be a difficult rally to win, but I’m up for the challenge.”
“Arctic Rally Finland will be brand new for most of the drivers. Naturally, we want to strive for a similar result to Sweden last year, but we have to wait and see how things go. The conditions are likely to be different to what we’ve seen in Sweden in recent years, when there’s been very little ice or snow. So that’s been something to consider in our testing, where it’s been really cold. We’ve also had to adapt the setup for the new Pirelli tyre. Similar to Monte-Carlo we have no prior experience with the tyre, but it’s a bit more straightforward because we only have one choice for this rally, so we’ve been able to focus our efforts on that. Overall, the feeling is good and I’m looking forward to the rally.”
“It will be nice to be back competing in Lapland again. I did the rally there once before – last year, when it was my first event in the Yaris WRC. For sure, this experience will help a bit. But there will be some stages that I haven’t driven before or they will be in the opposite direction, so I don’t think it will be a big advantage. In our tests the biggest thing we needed to do was find the right setup for the new tyre, as the style of the tyre is different from what we had before, but the feeling has been good. For me there is a bit more pressure than normally, but I would say it’s more excitement than pressure – especially from the Finnish people, as everybody is following me more than on other rallies.”
“Our result on Rallye Monte-Carlo was a very special start to the season and I was really happy to see how well the team was working together. Now, we’re looking forward to the first ever Arctic Rally Finland as a round of the WRC. Over the years there has been a lot of talk about how great the event could be as a WRC round with the guaranteed snow. This year the opportunity has suddenly come up and everyone involved has done a great job to make it happen in a very short space of time. I’m sure it will look fantastic on television with the pure white snow and the sun shining. What’s typical in Lapland are very long, fast corners where you can lose a lot of time if you’re not feeling confident, so the stability of the car is very important. For us, there will probably be a bit more pressure than usual because it’s a home event and our car has been developed on Finnish roads with these kind of conditions. But I’m confident that we can handle it.”