Reigning seven-time WRC champion Sebastien Ogier has set a new record after winning the Rally Montecarlo 2021 for the eighth time (2009, 2014-2019, 2021) out of the twelve editions in which he has taken part. Today’s victory breaks the tie with compatriot and prime rival Sebastien Loeb, who has now been left behind.
Ogier has claimed the win for one last time in his native Gap after defeating his teammate and title rival, Elfyn Evans in a very close match. Onboard their respective Yaris WRCs, both were a cut above the rest, in particular with regards to their Hyundai Motorsport opponents.
On the other hand, the rally turned out to be a rotund disaster for the Alzenau team. The South Koreans arrived in France with the goal of defending their 2020 victory and their performance was nothing short of a disaster.
Team leader, Ott Tänak, had to abandon for the second year in a row. Meanwhile, second in command, Thierry Neuville, could hardly keep up with the far superior Japanese cars.
At the very least the Belgian driver took bronze; a bittersweet prize for someone who had snatched the victory at this very same stage just twelve months prior.
As for the third i20 Coupe WRC of Dani Sordo and Carlos del Barrio, it finished in fifth place, a well-fought and well-deserved position for their farewell run as racing mates.
There was nothing else they could have done before the absolute superiority of the Japanese missiles, now under the command of team principal Jari-Matti Latvala. By the way, Ogier tops Overall Standing´s ahead of Evans & Neuville, after a master class on ice & snow.
Sunday: Final battle Ogier vs Evans
Sunday thus arrived with Evans and Ogier summoned for a final battle for the glory, a civil war reminiscent of the one lived here on the previous year. A priori, considering their respective track record and experience, Ogier was the favourite to come out on top.
The Frenchman is, after all, the one to have accrued the most victories in his home soil and his opponent was just a debutant in his back yard.
And so, things unfolded as it was expected. To the delirium of his countrymen, the title defendant not only kept his Sunday starting advantage against the Briton, but increased it to 32.6 seconds. In a show of strength, he even took the Power Stage.
All in all, a very well-deserved victory for one of the best drivers of all times who has managed to say goodbye to the most iconic and legendary event of the WRC in the grandest way possible.
With this victory Ogier has written another golden chapter in the history of the World Rally Championship, setting a record that will be very difficult to beat.
Third place finally went to Neuville, with a time of 1 minute and 13 seconds behind the winner at the Rally Montecarlo 2021.
Saturday: Ogier´s attack
One position down, and trying hard not to lose the trail of the Japanese army, was Neuville’s i20 WRC, just a few seconds from the bronze position.
Friday: First Evans vs Ogier battle
After Tänak winning the two opening stages on Thursday, Evans and Ogier commenced escalating their hostilities on Friday, turning the winding Alpine roads into their personal battlefield.
Determined to show his French rival that he could defeat him in his home soil, the Welshman took the leadership of the standings for the day with a 7.4-second advantage over his teammate.
Images of Rally Montecarlo 2021: WRC.com.