Six time world rally champions Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia have won the last six Monte Carlo rallies, and later today they’ll drive over the start ramp in Monaco aiming to win the event for Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT – having won with Citroën last year, with M-Sport Ford in 2018 and ’17 and with Volkswagen before that!

Ogier was fastest on yesterday’s Shakedown, on a stage near his hometown of Gap – which is where the main service area is located. It all looks poised for a seventh straight victory, doesn’t it – except that other new and intriguing driver/car combinations will hopefully make it a very close battle for victory over the next four days.

Reigning world champions Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja moving from Toyota to reigning Manufacturer champions Hyundai to become team-mates to Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul, Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin moving from M-Sport Ford to Toyota and Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm moving from the abandoned works Citroën team to M-Sport really whets the appetite for the start of this year’s World Rally Championship.

So with a couple of opening stages tonight, here is a quick Q&A with Sébastien Ogier, as he awaits the start of the Monte Carlo Rally.

You begin the season with a new manufacturer at Toyota Gazoo Racing. How tough will this one be?
“It might be my tenth start here of all the editions I’ve done, but it’s never twice been the same rally – it’s always something unexpected and that’s tricky. We’re all excited about these new changes. It’s good for the sport for this to be mixed up. It’s good for the fans, it’s exciting and it’s the same for us. Okay, Shakedown didn’t give us much, but we can see the potential is there with the new car. Like Ott said, we need some times, and we need some kilometres to have a feeling of where we are. Then we can have a better view of strengths and weaknesses.”

But you adapt quickly….
“Usually, this is one of my strengths and I hope to carry on that way. But it’s not like I can push the replay button and do it automatically. I’ve done a new challenge and I’m never missing the excitement – that’s definitely there. I want to give my best, but we need more time to be sure of what we have, but the first feeling is good. Monte-Carlo is the rally I want to win most on the calendar - I say this every year, it’s no surprise to you. But almost everybody here tonight has the potential to win it. We want to be part of the game.”

And the number 17?
“My favourite number was number one, but there was somebody better than us last year! The plan is to take it back. The only one [number] I could think to was 17. It was the day I was born on and the only other link was from autocross when we were kids and my dad was racing with that number.”

Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia wear Stilo WRC DES Zero helmets.

Sébastien Ogier, Julien Ingrassia, FIA World Rally Championship, motor sport, motorsport, Monte Carlo Rally, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT, Citroën, M-Sport Ford, Volkswagen,