The 2021 WRC season is half-way and now the Safari dust has settled, it's time to take a look who are in the Top 5 of the standings and are adding up the numbers 'on the crest' and who's 'cutting short' of numbers.
- Seven time World Champion Sébastien Ogier wasn't going to be fulltime in the WRC in 2021 when he was planning before Covid but after a shortened 2020 season his hunger for more rally success wasn't satisfied yet. From the first 6 rallies this year Ogier has won four of them in his Toyota Yaris WRC: Monaco, Croatia, Italy and the Safari. Ogier lost the lead of the championship briefly after round 2 (Arctic Rally) when Ott Tänak won but since then he has steadily increased his championship lead. The Arctic Rally in Finland was also the only rally of the 6 were Ogier needed to use Super Rally rules to continue the next day. The Frenchman who lives in Switzerland has also won the most stages so for this year, 30 (an average of 5 stage wins/rally) his closest competitor is Ott Tanak (Hyundai) with 24 stage wins.
- Elfyn Evans (Toyota) who almost defeated Ogier in last year's championship, has won 1 rally of the 6 (Portugal) and has scored 2 more points than in 6 of the 7 rounds in 2020. A lowly 10th place in the Safari Rally, when he had to use Super Rally on the second day, has hurt Evans title hopes. Evans' hope of close battle with his team-leader towards the end of the season isn't over, as he was very consistent in the first half with 19 stage wins in total and led in 3 rallies (Portugal, Monte Carlo and Croatia).
- Currently 3rd in the championship is Hyundai driver Thierry Neuville who had to find a new co-driver just before the start of the season. The Belgian was a bit of a surprise in the early stage of the championship with 3 consecutive podium finishes. An optimistic pace note in SS7 of the Portuguese rally, leading to Neuville having to drive with broken suspension as a consequence, halted that run when he finished only 36th. He finished 3rd again in Italy, but it was a painful weekend in the Safari Rally when he retired from the lead of due to yet more broken suspension.
- Another Hyundai driver with reliability issues on his car in the first half is Ott Tänak, in 2 of the 6 rallies he had to use Super Rally due to suspension problems, finishing 21st (Portugal) and 24th (Italy) to score only 9 points. This was a shame for the Estonian, as he won the Arctic Rally in Finland where he won 5 of the 10 stages and led from start to finish.
- It's been 27 years since we've seen a Japanese driver on the podium in the WRC. In this year's Safari Rally, Takamoto Katsuta (Toyota) ended that Japanese drought, which began when Kenjiro Shinozuka finished second in the Safari Rally with a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo I. Katsuta has been improving throught the 1st half of the year as in the 1st 3 rounds he finished 6th, in Portugal and Italy he finished 4th and the Safari he achieved his maiden podium with a 2nd place. He also was in the lead for the 1st time (2 stages in the Safari Rally) and has won 3 stages in total this year, which is a career best.