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How Monza's lottery winner matched a 27-year-old record
The 2020 World Rally Championship ended in heartbreak for Britain's Elfyn Evans as his 14-point advantage in the drivers' title race was whisked out from beneath him by a patch of Italian snow. Thus Sebastien Ogier claimed his seventh WRC title as Rally Monza joined the calendar for the first time.
Tensions were high when the trucks unloaded in the historic royal park and there were suggestions that some teams were rather less willing to be there than others. Event organisers had insisted that the itinerary would be fully compliant with the COVID-19 legislation in place at the time, but it was sobering to know that Italy had suffered its most grievous toll of the pandemic so far on the opening day of the rally, with 993 lives lost.
Eight long weeks had passed since the previous round in Sardinia, throughout which time the expectations of British rally fans had hung over Evans like the Sword of Damocles. The nation had meanwhile saluted the 25th anniversary of Colin McRae's euphoric WRC title and paid fulsome tribute to Richard Burns 15 years after his tragic loss to cancer, which would have served only to remind Evans of exactly whose boots he was expected to fill. Sure enough, he managed to uncharacteristically reverse his Toyota Yaris into the barriers during shakedown.
Kalle Rovanpera broke a decade-old record in becoming the World Rally Championship's youngest-ever winner in a truly dominant performance on Estonia's fast gravel roads. Staving off the challenge of Hyundai's Craig Breen, his committed drive showed a maturity beyond his 20 years that gives Toyota's post-Ogier era a far brighter complexion
The World Rally Championship’s delayed return to the Safari Rally was always set throw up some surprises, but aside from a spirited showing by Thierry Neuville it became another painful event for Hyundai in 2021. Once again it was Sebastien Ogier who took full advantage as he completed a stunning comeback drive
For the second WRC gravel rally in a row, a promising Friday for Hyundai turned into desolation as Toyota gratefully picked up the pieces. This time it was championship leader Sebastien Ogier who took full advantage after Ott Tanak and Dani Sordo retired to score a memorable victory, having swept the road on the first two days
Hyundai Motorsport boss Andrea Adamo was vocal in his criticism of his team's tyre choices on Rally Croatia and declared that he "had better move my ass and solve it". Doing so will be vital to getting Hyundai's 2021 WRC title hopes back on track, but finding the root of the problem won't be the work of a moment
Sebastien Ogier was already in an incredibly tight fight at Rally Croatia before a surprise collision with public road traffic at the start of the final day. But the defending champion held his nerve to take a narrow victory and create further World Rally Championship history
With all three major manufacturers committing to the World Rally Championship’s hybrid era from 2022, the future of the series is assured for now, but it could lead to trickier twists and turns further down the road
Ott Tanak made up for a disastrous Monte Carlo Rally by leading all the way on the snow-kissed stages of the Arctic Rally Finland and in the process hit back at an event Toyota had been expected to dominate…
Monza WRC: Ogier wins to claim seventh title
Ogier admits Evans crash took away from title enjoyment