Sebastien Loeb (M-Sport) has come out on top at the thrilling ending of the Rallye Monte-Carlo 2022. The Frenchman regained the lead in the penultimate stage to defeat his compatriot and archenemy Sebastien Ogier (Toyota) by 10.5 seconds after this suffered a puncture.
With this victory, Loeb has matched the eight wins of his rival at the alpine event. The champion from Alzenau, who is turning 48 in February, has also broken the record for the oldest WRC winner in history, a fitting accomplishment for such a legendary figure.
Having retired from the World Rally Championship in 2020, when he only took part in a couple of commitments, he has returned this season to take the 80th victory of his career, the first since Spain 2018.
His achievement takes even greater significance considering he had hardly had enough time to shake off the dust of the Dakar 2022, where he finished second before making his way to Rallye Monte-Carlo 2022.
As if these circumstances weren’t challenging enough, he competed with new co-pilot Isabelle Galmiche, with a new car, the Ford Puma Rally1 and at the first race of the new and uncharted hybrid era.
The veteran racer from Alsacia has delighted fans with a prodigious performance from start to finish; the synchronicity with both his vehicle and his new partner becoming obvious from the beginning. Throughout the length of the Monte Carlo Rally 2022, he has remained in the battle for the lead, which he attained both on Friday and on the final day.
Ogier and Benjamin Veillas, for their part, have been worthy opponents for the winning couple. The pair from Toyota has given a shining performance, virtually controlling the race until the penultimate special, when they took the start with a 20-seconds lead on M-Sport. In the end, however, an unfortunate puncture came between them and the glory.
Completing an extraordinary day for M-Sport, the Irishman Craig Breen finished third at 1:26 seconds from the top.
Hyundai starts 2022 just like it ended 2021
Hyundai has suffered the worst fate of all at the Rallye Monte-Carlo 2022. Only Thierry Neuville has managed to avoid the otherwise disastrous destiny of the rest of the team, which has been without a technical director since Andrea Adamo’s departure. The Belgian finished fifth.
Ott Tanak, whose history with the Monte Carlo Rally with the South Korean team seems to be hopelessly jinxed, had to retire on Saturday after damaging his car. Similarly, debutant with Hyundai Oliver Solberg had to say goodbye to the competition following a number of incidents.
Clash of the titans
In short, the two most successful WRC drivers of all time have come head-to-head in Rallye Monte-Carlo 2022 for another of their intense and legendary battles. Loeb and Ogier, who have taken turns at the top of the podium here since 2003 -except in 2006, 10 and 20-, have fought tooth and nail to defeat each other at their favourite territory.
One thing was obvious, this weekend there was a lot more at stake than just taking the opening round of the season for the rival compatriots. They were both hoping to make history. Irreconcilable enemies, they have always jumped at the chance to crush each other but there is only room for one God at the Olympus of Speed.
Their rivalry has given us an unforgettable weekend of battles which started in the first kilometres of the competition, whit both alternating at the lead and a constant and spectacular exchange of attacks for the glory.” ]
Images of Rallye Monte-Carlo 2022: M-Sport.