The last time the World Rally Championship was won by someone other than a Frenchman named Sébastien was way back in 2003. Yep, seriously. Messrs Ogier and Loeb have had things completely sewn up for the past 15 championships.
And yet, the dominance of the Seb may be set to end in 2019, as Toyota’s clean sweep of the podium at Rally Germany put Ott Tänak within touching distance of the title.
The Estonian driver secured his third victory in Germany in as many years, despite brake problems on his Yaris forcing him to take the final (and brilliantly named) Wolf Power stage lightly.
“We still have four more rounds to go and we need to stay focused and give our maximum,” said Tänak.
“The championship is still tight, and we’ve seen this weekend that nothing is coming easy. We were not always the fastest, but we were the more consistent, and in the end, we managed to get the victory.”
Tänak was followed by his teammates Kris Meeke and Jari-Matti Latvala, puting the Toyota Gazoo Racing outfit just eight points behind leaders Hyundai in the manufacturers’ championship.
It’s Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville who remains Tänak’s closest rival for the drivers’ title, though, after some tactical penalties taken by teammates allowed the Belgian to finish fourth and Citroen’s Ogier to finish seventh in Germany. Those two are now 33 and 40 points behind Tänak respectively.
Next up for the WRC is Rally Turkey in a couple of weeks’ time, before the iconic Wales Rally GB. Will we see a different champion this year? Or is Ogier saving his best ‘til last?