Sebastien Ogier’s hopes of securing a seventh straight world rally driver’s title were dealt a potentially fatal blow in Catalonia on Friday.
The French rally ace’s Citroen suffered power steering problems resulting in a loss of over 40 seconds on his rivals in the Rally of Catalonia’s second stage.
Ogier trails championship leader Ott Tanak by 28 points in the standings, with the Estonian only needing to outscore him by two points this weekend to dethrone the French rally king.
The Rally of Catalonia staged around Salou south of Barcelona is the 13th and penultimate leg of the season which concludes in Australia next month.
Tanak was taking a cautious approach to clinching his maiden title.
“We’ll focus on ourselves and do all we can. If it takes more than that, then there’s no need to push it. If we don’t do it here, we can take the fight to Australia,” the Toyota Yaris driver said this week.
The only other driver in with an outside shot at the title is Thierry Neuville, the third-placed Belgian who is 41 points adrift in the standings.