The eight-time world champion suffered a puncture while leading a WRC race for the third time this season in Japan, ending any hopes of another win he had clinched in Spain last month.
Ogier has raised concerns about the reliability of Pirelli tires this year after suffering punctures in four of the six rallies he competed in during a split campaign.
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He famously led at Monte Carlo when a tire failed, handing the win to M-Sport’s Sebastien Loeb. Ogier was also leading in Kenya when a tire failed.
Unasked, Ogier expressed his feelings in the live TV feed at the end of the Rally Japan: “It was a great time [in Japan].
“It’s the usual story and maybe one day we’ll start talking about the really crappy job that Pirelli is doing and maybe things will change, but right now it’s really a joke what they’re doing, it’s just a joke Lottery.”
Whilst Ogier has since apologized for the strength of his language on the matter, the Frenchman maintains that the WRC regulation tire needs improvement.
He’s not the only driver to express tire concerns this year, while M-Sport has urged Pirelli to beef up its wet-weather asphalt tires following a string of retirements at Rally Croatia in April.
Sebastien Ogier, Vincent Landais, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1
Photo: Tomasz Kaliński
“Sometimes I speak about it with the wrong words because of my emotions and I have to apologize for that, but it’s a real problem and it’s not acceptable,” he added.
“Nobody dares to speak out and I’m the only one speaking up and that’s unacceptable.
“Everyone here works very hard to do their best and at this part of the championship it’s a shame we’re forced to use someone who isn’t doing it at the level they should be.
“I’ve heard and I’m not sure as I’m definitely not the one who expects there to be more punctures in a year and a half over the 10 years with the previous supplier so how can you explain that.
“Sport shouldn’t play with it. Luckily I didn’t make the championship this year, but you can easily count how much I’ve lost. Without being arrogant, I would certainly have been on the podium every time and won a few rallies.”
Ogier admits the problem is not limited to tarmac tyres, but understands that in extreme rallies like Kenya, any supplier would be vulnerable to punctures.
“It’s not really great on gravel either. Of course that can happen in Kenya and of course it can happen to any supplier to be honest as the conditions are extreme I understand.
“But this weekend I’ve had two punctures, one cost me a lot and the second I changed on a stretch of road and I didn’t touch anything and again it’s not a mistake so it’s frustrating.”
The puncture of Sebastien Ogier’s Toyota after stage two of Rally Japan
Photo by: Giacomo Rauli
Autosport’s sister publication, motorsport.com Italy, has received a picture of Ogier’s punctured tire from Stage 2.
As can be seen in the picture, there is a cut that starts from the shoulder, goes through the edge and reaches the tread.
This suggests that the failure could have been caused by hitting one of the many curbs that bordered the narrow streets.
Following the conclusion of the rally, Pirelli stated its 2022 tires had “consistently assured reliability and impact resistance” this year, but revealed that it plans to refine an evolution of its gravel and tarmac tires for next year.
“This Rally Japan, which was unusual in terms of high temperatures and generally dry conditions, perfectly sums up Pirelli’s season in which both gravel and asphalt tires have consistently provided reliability, impact resistance, low wear and performance,” said Terenzio Testoni, Rally Activity Manager.
“Therefore, I can safely say that it has been a very satisfying year for us in which, although we have fully met the challenge of the new hybrid cars, we have continued to develop new solutions and build on what we have in the race after have learned to race.
“Now it is already time to focus on the next season, for which we are working on a further development of the asphalt and gravel ranges.”