by M.C. – photo: wrc.com | Sebastién Ogier (M-Sport Ford World Rally Team) can’t get enough of winning at home in Montecarlo. The five-times champion French driver has opened the World Rally Championship doing what he is best at, winning the Rally Montecarlo, a victory he has already achieved in five other occasions (although the first time in 2009 did not count for the WRC). This sixth title at the Principality however (24th -28th January), has not been an easy feat. The Ford driver made some key mistakes at the initial stages, including some spinning, and the pressure from ex team-mate Ott Tänak (Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT) almost took away his chances of reclaiming the title.
His ample experience however, and an exceptional performance at the famous Col de Turini on Sunday, were enough to give Ogier his best victory of the season. Second was the Estonian Tänak who is likely to be one of the greatest attractions of this WRC and to pose a threat to the leading French driver and his hopes to perpetuate even further the legend of his triumphant career. Third on the podium was Jari-Matti Latvala from the Japanese scuderia (Toyota).
Hyundai i20, off to a troubling start
Hyundai i20 was the hardest hit when it came to withdrawals. First it was the Norwegian Andreas Mikkelsen (Hyundai i29) who had to say goodbye after some mechanical issues. Then, the Spaniard Dani Sordo, who was having a great race so far, went off into a ditch and had to forsake his podium hopes. Sordo continues with his strike of bad luck of the last few races.
The Korean team’s world’s sub champion, Thierry Neuville, managed only a fifth position, although he did achieve four partial victories and a notorious final comeback.
Results of Rally Montecarlo:
- Sébastien Ogier (Fra/Ford) 4h18’55”
- Ott Tänak (Est/Toyota), at 58”
- Jari-Matti Latvala (Fin/Toyota), at 1’52”
- Kris Meeke (Gbr/Citroën), at 4’43”
- Thierry Neuville (Bel/Hyundai), at 4’53”
- Sébastien Ogier (Fra/Ford) 26 points
- Ott Tänak (Est/Toyota) 18 points
- Jari-Matti Latvala (Fin/Toyota) 17 points
- Kris Meeke (Gbr/Citroën) 17 points
- Thierry Neuville (Bel/Hyundai) 14 points