Monte-Carlo Countdown:
2017 Rewind

We begin our build-up to Rallye Monte-Carlo (25 - 28 January) with a look back at last year's rally, when the latest-spec WRC cars made their competitive debut and Sébastien Ogier was chasing a fourth consecutive Monte victory.

Thursday 19 January
Thierry Neuville led after Thursday night's two stages. The Hyundai driver was quickest on both tests, earning himself an 8.5sec gap over Ogier, who made a cautious start at the wheel of his new M-Sport Ford Fiesta.

Juho Hänninen gave the brand-new Toyota Gazoo Racing Team something to smile about by going third fastest on SS2 at the wheel of the squad's new Yaris, while Kris Meeke's Citroën C3 narrowly edged out Ott Tänak's Fiesta for fourth.

There were early exits for Stéphane Lefebvre, whose Citroën stopped in SS2 with a mechanical issue, and Hayden Paddon who rolled in SS1.

Friday 20 January
Neuville capitalised on a mistake from Ogier to extend his lead to 45.1sec. Ogier lost more than 40sec after sliding into a ditch and beaching his Fiesta. He plunged to eighth, more than a minute off the lead.

Neuville mastered the snow and ice-covered asphalt roads to win three consecutive stages, fending off challenges from Meeke and Tänak before Ogier snatched second after winning the final two tests.

Meeke was Neuville’s closest challenger until he hit a bank and retired his Citroën C3 with broken suspension. Tänak, fastest in the opening stage, took up the pursuit and held second until Ogier slid by.

Jari-Matti Latvala took on the role of lead Toyota driver in fourth following the retirement of team-mate Hänninen, who crashed out of third when he hit a tree.

Neuville's victory hopes shattered on saturday

Saturday 21 January
Ogier emerged from Saturday's leg on course for victory after event-long leader Neuville’s hopes were shattered.

The Belgian extended his lead to more than a minute in the morning, but an impact midway through the day's final stage broke his car's rear suspension and handed the advantage to Ogier. The Frenchman ended 47.1sec ahead of M-Sport team-mate Tänak, with just four tests to go.

Tänak was hampered by gearbox and power steering problems but headed Latvala by 1min 33.5sec. Breen climbed to fourth in his Citroën when Sordo dropped a minute in the final stage when broken power steering sent his i20 off the road. The gap between them was 16.9sec. Elfyn Evans was in stunning form in his Fiesta, winning three stages to climb to sixth.

Sunday 22 January
Ogier eased through the final leg in the mountains above Monaco to claim his fifth Monte success by 2m15.0sec.

But there was drama behind, when Latvala snatched second in his Toyota Yaris on the Japanese manufacturer’s return to the WRC after a 17-year absence.

Final day engine problems for Tänak denied M-Sport a one-two as he slipped to third, a further 42.8sec behind. With no service, Tänak worked furiously to make repairs and did enough to hold onto third, fending off Sordo’s i20 with a spirited downhill drive to the finish of the last stage in falling snow.  

Breen finished fifth with Evans completing the top six in another Fiesta. WRC 2 winner Andreas Mikkelsen was seventh overall ahead of Skoda team-mate Jan Kopecky, while Stéphane Lefebvre continued his recovery from a broken clutch on the opening day to climb to ninth in a Citroën C3. Bryan Bouffier completed the leaderboard in a Fiesta R5.

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