In the second and final part of our lookback at Rallye Monte-Carlo we focus on some key moments from a captivating opening round of the WRC.
Driver of the Rally
Who would have bet against him? With five consecutive Monte-Carlo wins behind him, including a debut success with M-Sport Ford two years ago, Sébastien Ogier was many people’s favourite to make it six on his first drive in a Citroën C3.
And he was typically brilliant. He wrung every second out of a car that has previously proved its worth on asphalt and used his experience wisely with shrewd tyre choices when conditions turned tricky.
Monte-Carlo is a rally Ogier loves, in part due to the unique challenge it brings. He now has seven wins in total, the same as Sébastien Loeb. What price a record-breaking eighth success in 12 months?
Friday afternoon’s test from Valdrome to Sigottier was Thierry Neuville’s big chance. The Belgian was leading Ogier by 3.4sec and his tyre choice for the loop of three tests was geared around studded rubber for the opener, which contained frozen snow and ice.
The beginning, though, was dry asphalt and when the Belgian charged into the opening left corner, his Hyundai i20 refused to turn in and he flew down an escape road. It took 20sec to recover and he finished the stage with his lead cut to 1.4sec.
His opportunity to put a chunk of time into Ogier had gone and the Frenchman never looked back.
Quote of the Rally
It was the end of a busy month for Sébastien Loeb. Almost two weeks pounding the dunes of the Dakar Rally were followed by a brief first i20 test in preparation for Monte-Carlo. Then came three days of recce and four days of competition.
He looked and sounded weary at the finish on Monaco’s harbour. “I drove almost every day this month and I’m looking forward to stop now. I’m going to sleep!”
Save of the Rally
Even the best require a slice of luck every now and then. Ogier is no different. Thanks to @ChristianWRC1 for this video and to Cyril Faure who filmed it. Take a look here.