Friday | 16 Jan 2015

Rally Rewind: Rallye Monte-Carlo 2014

Sebastien Ogier kicked off the defence of his world title with victory at last year’s Rallye Monte-Carlo, but he was forced to draw on all of his experience to make it to the head of the field after suffering a nightmare first day.

Beginning our series of countdown stories ahead of the 2015 Rallye Monte-Carlo [22-25 January) here’s a recap of what happened last time…

Kubica was a surprise early leader

Day one. Thursday 16 January
The rally started with a bang. On the first stage, Hyundai debutant Thierry Neuville crashed out, Ogier ploughed his Polo into a wall and Robert Kubica overcame unexpected snowy conditions to jump into a surprise 14sec lead over Bryan Bouffier, who held second despite hitting a bridge. The day featured a classic Monte mix of road conditions, with ice, snow, wet tarmac and slippery mud making tyre choices a nightmare. Most compromised with a combination of super-soft slicks and winter tyres. Ford Fiesta RS driver Bouffier fared the best when it came to juggling all of the elements, and he rounded off the day’s six stages with a 38.8sec lead over Citroen’s Kris Meeke. Kubica settled for third on his first-ever event in his M-Sport-prepared Ford Focus RS WRC. The ex-F1 driver was the standout performer on the opening loop, but he adopted a more cautious approach on the later stages. Ogier’s altercation with the wall and some uncomfortable tyre choices dropped him to 9th at the end of the morning but he recovered with a brace of fastest times in the afternoon to end the day fourth, 47.3s off the lead.

Bouffier was unable to fight off Ogier on Friday

Day two. Friday 17 January
Ogier was quick to bounce back after his forgettable Thursday, and he edged a big step closer to victory after a near-perfect day two. A sensational time on Friday’s opener moved him second and he passed Bouffier for the lead on the day’s third stage. In the day’s damp conditions Bouffier made his rival’s job easier by sliding off the road and landing in a field. Ogier controlled the rest of the day and ended with a 51sec advantage. Meeke put in another assured performance in his DS3 WRC to retain third. His main threat at the start of the day came from Kubica. However, the Pole’s rally came to an abrupt end when he hit a bridge 32km into SS9. That took the pressure off Meeke and he carved out a 1m 10s lead over his team-mate Mads Ostberg at the final control. Jari-Matti Latvala edged past impressive M-Sport World Rally Team driver Elfyn Evans to claim fifth place on the final stage.

Ogier's Monte victory was his first as a WRC driver

Day three. Saturday 18 January
With a handsome overnight lead, Ogier kept his nose clean to secure his first victory on the Monte Carlo stages as a World Rally Championship driver. Overall, the VW Motorsport driver won seven out of 15 stages to take victory by 51s from Bouffier. Meeke completed the podium, only 35s slower than Bouffier. Ostberg wrapped up a memorable weekend for Citroen as he finished fourth, just under a minute behind Meeke, and Jari-Matti Latvala was fifth in his VW Polo. The Finn didn’t have the best of starts after stopping to change a puncture on day one, but he ended the rally well by taking maximum points on the Power Stage. Monte debutant Evans finished sixth, taking the place of his team-mate Mikko Hirvonen who retired with an an alternator problem on the penultimate test.

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