THE fight for the 2017 FIA World Rally Championship driver’s crown has narrowed to Sébastien Ogier, Thierry Neuville, Ott Tänak and Jari-Matti Latvala.
That’s the view of four-time champion Ogier after he extended his lead in the standings with victory in Vodafone Rally de Portugal at the weekend.
“Myself, Ott, Jari-Matti Latvala and Thierry – we’re almost halfway through the season and I think that’s the four guys who still have a chance of the title,” Ogier said.
“Dani Sordo is a bit more far away now, so I would say you could bet it will be one of these four who will be champion at the end of the year.”
The Frenchman’s comments followed a memorable start to the season, in which he, Latvala, Kris Meeke and Neuville each won a round for their different teams, while strong point-scoring performances from Tänak, Sordo, Elfyn Evans, Hayden Paddon and Craig Breen have kept the competition open.
Ogier said fellow M-Sport driver Tänak, who led for much of the Portugal event, was driving well and the intra-team rivalry was helping the team and the development of their Ford Fiesta WRC car.
“The fight with Ott was intense. He had really good speed this weekend so without his mistake I’m sure it would have been very close,” Ogier told wrc.com.
“His speed is good for me and the team because we score points together, but also because we’re pushing the limit of the car and improving its development.
“For me, at the beginning of the year, it was good to have him alongside because I had little experience with this car.
“Together we’re making a great team and also with Elfyn, who is strong this season. We definitely have a chance of the manufacturers’ title and that would be amazing for a private team against the factory teams.”
M-Sport heads the manufacturers’ standings by 26 points from Hyundai Motorsport.