Ogier bored

Motor Sport News - - Rally Mexico - SS4 El Choco­late 1 (33.68 miles)

The dif­fer­ence in mood from one side of the Volk­swa­gen camp to the other was marked.

From the minute Lat­vala’s drive­shaft broke at the end of the first stage of Rally Swe­den last month, vic­tory had been on the cards here. Equally cer­tain was a pow­er­stage win for Ogier.

The French­man’s mood was dark on Fri­day – and that was only partly due to find­ing a herd of cows in his way on SS5. Epic save (“It would have been bad for us, but worse for them!”). That mood dark­ened fur­ther over the week­end.

By Sun­day, he was wear­ing the look of a man who wanted to be else­where. “This,” he said, “has been a bor­ing rally. No fights, no noth­ing. A bor­ing rally.”

Ogier grew tired of talk­ing about the run­ning or­der reg­u­la­tions a long time ago, he had no ap­petite to go over old ground and it’s a brave man who brings it up at such a junc­ture.

Un­der­stand­ably, he hates the fact that suc­cess is pe­nalised while ap­par­ent medi­ocrity – for what­ever rea­son – is cel­e­brated with a prefer­able po­si­tion on the road. He wants the level play­ing field. He wants the fair fight. Yes, he could slow down and per­haps even miss a rally to level the play­ing field him­self, but why should he? He’s per­se­cuted for per­fec­tion. The cham­pi­onship’s short­com­ings that force us down the road of such ma­nip­u­la­tion are of no in­ter­est to Ogier and nei­ther should they be.

Ogier ar­rived at the start of Mex­ico on the back of the per­fect 56-point start. At the fin­ish, I ven­tured that his per­fect start had con­tin­ued. He’d al­ways said, Lat­vala was in a dif­fer­ent rally on a dif­fer­ent road.

He’d asked to be mea­sured against his near­est ri­vals. Against An­dreas Mikkelsen, Mads Ost­berg and Hay­den Paddon, those clos­est to him on the road. Pre­dictably, he’d taken them all to the clean­ers.

A re­minder of that brought a wry smile. “It’s true,” he said, “there was no way for me to do any­thing bet­ter than this. So, for that, this is still the per­fect start. It’s frus­trat­ing, but what can we do? Peo­ple ex­pect the un­ex­pected from me be­cause we did some crazy re­sults when we were win­ning events like this one, Sar­dinia and Aus­tralia last year. But be­fore the start I was think­ing it would be good to just get on the podium. You know, this is not against Jari-matti – he is the nicest guy and the most hon­est guy around. He is just do­ing his job, what else was he go­ing to do here?”

Look­ing at the re­sults, it was hard not to ar­gue with Ogier’s appraisal of this be­ing a bor­ing rally: two, three, four even 14-minute gaps lit­tered the top 10. But there was more to this event than a split-se­cond bat­tle. This was 250 miles of pure ad­ven­ture and, af­ter four hours and 25 min­utes, Lat­vala got that.

“Ral­lies are not al­ways the big bat­tle,” he said. “Not ev­ery rally is like Fin­land – that’s how it is. I had a bor­ing rally in Swe­den, when I had a prob­lem and I had to drive the whole day with the bro­ken car. I un­der­stand for Seb, he couldn’t fight and he is not feel­ing com­fort­able with that. I un­der­stand. But some ral­lies are dif­fer­ent.”

Lat­vala 38m48.1s Lat­vala Ogier +19.0s

Ogier was forced to clean the road

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