By claiming 25 points for victory plus three bonus points for winning the event-closing Power Stage, Loeb leaves the Principality with a maximum score in his bid to win the FIA World Rally Championship powered by Nokia for a ninth time.
Loeb, from the Alsace region of France, began the final day of the WRC qualifier, which consisted of one test, the 5.16-kilometre Power Stage, with a lead of 2m41.6s. After completing the challenging run unscathed, victory was all but assured.
“For sure it’s always a great moment to start the season like this especially in front of so many fans,” Loeb told World Rally Radio. “Full points in the first race is incredible and for sure it’s the perfect start [to my title defence]. But Monte-Carlo is my rally and for the others we will have to see.”
Dani Sordo finished second in his MINI John Cooper Works WRC, the marque’s first podium on the legendary event since Rauno Aaltonen took the overall victory in 1967 in a Cooper S. Petter Solberg, in a Fiesta RS WRC, bagged the final podium spot on his return to the factory Ford team after an absence of more than a decade. It was the Norwegian’s first Monte-Carlo podium.
Mikko Hirvonen marked his debut for the works Citroen squad in fourth with Evgeny Novikov impressing throughout to take fifth in his M-Sport Fiesta, which equals his best finish in the WRC to date. The Russian completed his Monte-Carlo debut by claiming the final Power Stage point.
French legend Francois Delecour took sixth on his return to the WRC for the first time since 2002. The former Monte-Carlo winner handed driving duties to co-driver Dominique Savignoni for the Power Stage to celebrate the navigator’s retirement from competition.
Pierre Campana scored a career-best seventh in his factory MINI with Ott Tanak eighth after a conservative run in his M-Sport Fiesta. Martin Prokop edged MINI privateer Armindo Araujo in a close battle for ninth place with Matthew Wilson taking 11th overall for the new Go Fast Energy World Rally Team.
Volkswagen Motorsport’s Kevin Abbring was the highest Super 2000 finisher in 12th, one place ahead of Go Fast’s Henning Solberg, whose challenge for a top 10 finish was scuppered by a double driveshaft failure on day one.
Craig Breen won the Super 2000 World Rally Championship division in his Fiesta in 14th with Michal Kosciuszko nursing his Mitsubishi Lancer home to the Production Car World Rally Championship spoils in 30th overall.
The World Rally Championship resumes on Rally Sweden from 9-12 February.