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WRC World Rally Championship: history of generations

The new king of rallies is called Kalle Rovanperä, who at the age of 22 became the youngest world champion in the history of rallies. Titled at the end of a season without suspense, fortunately spiced up by the intermittent participation of Sébastien Ogier and Sébastien Loeb.


IIt would be so simple to write that the rally has shifted into a new era, that it looks to the future. Two reasons justify this assertion. First, the birth, in this 2022 season, of a new generation of hybrid cars. Secondly, the consecration of a gifted young man from Finland, Kalle Rovanperä, who became champion with panache. By obtaining his first title at the age of 22, he improves by five years the record of precocity previously held by Colin McRae. However, what we remember from this year is more like a return to the glorious past. The performances of Sébastien Loeb and Sébastien Ogier brightened up a season lacking champions. The two legends of French and world rallying contested a partial program, won one round each, and displayed such a satisfactory level of performance for them, their respective teams and the spectators that they will return in 2023.

Loeb, the eternal champion

The prospect of a revenge at the Monte-Carlo rally next January after the formidable duel offered by the two Sébastiens at the start of the year is enticing. At 47, Loeb had become the oldest winner in the world championship, to start a season of “extreme”. This 80 victory, for his very first participation at the wheel of a Ford with, moreover, a new co-driver, Isabelle Galmiche, replacing Daniel Elena, will retain a special place in the heart of the Alsatian. Ten years after his last title, Sébastien Loeb has also shown a high level of performance in his three other appearances this season. Alas, he was unlucky as he systematically fought at the front. In Portugal, he leads the race after four specials, but hits a wall which breaks his suspension, then a turbo failure stops him the next day. In Kenya, he set three fastest times, but a faulty hose pushed him back in the standings. In Greece, he was in the lead at the end of the first day, but an alternator problem ended his brilliant performance.

“I had not competed in the Greece rally for a long time, he said. It was nice to have to do that I’m still fast. I hope to do more rounds in the future. ”




Ogier still on top but unlucky

Loeb should again cross paths with Sébastien Ogier several times next year. This season, the two men have competed in three rallies together. Second behind his eldest in Monte-Carlo because of a puncture in the penultimate special, the youngest of the two Sébastien accumulated this type of setback thereafter. Abandonment in Portugal after two consecutive punctures. A curse that still pursues him in Kenya and Japan, depriving him of probable victories, like in Monte-Carlo. His scathing comments about the Pirelli tires have raised eyebrows, but they demonstrate that, even on a part-time basis, Ogier remains a formidable competitor, focused on winning. Fortunately, he managed to win once out of his six appearances. His brilliant victory in Spain sealed the constructors’ title for his Toyota team. “It’s always good to win, the opportunities were rarer this year, he explains. So far my mid-season has been unlucky with a lot of punctures. In Spain, I finally had a clean race, we had fun and we won. ” This 55 WRC success was the first without Julien Ingrassia, the historic co-driver from Gapois, partner of eight world titles, who had decided to end his career at the end of 2021. This year, Ogier was supported by Benjamin Veillas, but after this success in Spain, the pilot interrupted this association. It was therefore with Vincent Landais that he contested the last rally of the season in Japan, before probably continuing the adventure in 2023. Satisfied with his schedule this year, the Toyota driver intends to contest a part-time program again . “It is my decision to withdraw partially, it was tiring to travel all year round. I wanted to spend more time with family. I made this choice to slow down even if the consequence is that I can no longer play for the world championship. I still enjoy driving. I have accumulated a lot of experience in fifteen years. I proved, this year, that it is still possible to become punctually and to get big results, Seb Loeb has also demonstrated this when he comes back from time to time. ” With one victory and two second places, Ogier was actively involved in securing Toyota’s second consecutive constructors’ title. As for the drivers, the Japanese brand has won a fourth title in a row. After Tanak in 2019, Ogier in 2020 and 2021, Rovanperä in 2022 surely opens a new era of domination. “We have been a teammate at Toyota for three years, says Ogier. Kalle Rovanperä has enormous experience for her age. In the first two seasons, he had shown impressive speed potential. This year, he managed to put everything together, he exploded with a consistency that marks the champions. He fully deserves his title and, given his age, there will be others. ”

The prospect of competing for the title with the young Finn, or of going for a ninth crown to equal Sébastien Loeb is not enough for Ogier. He does not plan to return full time. Nor is he convinced by a retraining on the circuit, despite his first participation in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. “If, in rallying, I am able to be efficient by doing things punctually, it is not the same on the circuit where I would really have to take the plunge and go there full time to give myself a chance. to progress and perform. So far, that’s not the goal. I want to slow down in schedule intensity. I will be 39 in December, I have a few years left to do good things in motorsport. ” The statement is just as true for Sébastien Loeb who will be 49 next February, a few weeks after competing in the Dakar and then the Monte-Carlo!

His surname is certainly very (too) heavy to bear, but it is above all the lack of results that has condemned Mick Schumacher’s short-term future in Formula 1. After two seasons, the Haas team, which has several times regretted the high number of accidents and the expenses generated by the German pilot, decided not to renew his contract. He will be replaced in 2023 by his experienced compatriot Nico Hülkenberg, who will form a duo of thirty-somethings with Kevin Magnussen.


The French rally championship season ends this weekend around Sainte-Maxime (Var). A final for fun, because the sporting challenge died out at the end of the previous round in the Cévennes. Quentin Giordano and his co-driver Kevin Parent won their first French championship title, driving the Sarrazin Motorsport VW Polo. They succeed Yoann Bonato, double defending champion. The summary of the Var rally will be broadcast on Sunday November 27, at 9.15 p.m., on Canal+ Sport 360.


As in the WRC rally, the Japanese won the crown of world champion in endurance. The Buemi-Hartley-Hirakawa trio is titled, while the sister car of Conway-Kobayashi-Lopez won the last race in Bahrain. The Alpine team had to settle for second place overall. Peugeot is continuing to learn the discipline and is still experiencing technical problems. A Peugeot 9X8 finished fourth, the other retired. A studious winter awaits the French team before the 2023 season.


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