We begin our build-up to the Rallye Monte-Carlo (19 - 22 January) with a look back to last year's event, when Kris Meeke locked horns with Monte master Sébastien Ogier.
Thursday 21 January
Meeke leads on Ogier's home turf.
Citroën DS 3 driver Meeke emerged from Thursday night’s opening two stages with a 6.9s advantage over local hero Ogier. Ogier was fastest on the first stage, but Meeke hit back in the second and eclipsed his VW rival by 11s through the icy test.
Ogier's team-mate, Andreas Mikkelsen, ended the leg in third, while Thierry Neuville, in Hyundai’s new i20 WRC, was fourth. Jari-Matti Latvala held fourth after the opening stage but dropped to seventh after clipping a bridge.
Friday 22 January
Ogier heads Meeke as duel rages.
The second leg featured an enthralling fight between Ogier and Meeke during which the lead changed hands three times. The Frenchman took the lead in the morning’s final stage. However, Meeke was back ahead after the penultimate test only to succumb to a super finale from Ogier, who ended 9.5sec clear.
Mikkelsen was third until a spin dropped him 25.7sec behind Latvala. Neuville struggled with handling problems and ended fifth.
Bright sunshine and mild temperatures meant roads were mainly ice free but stray patches caught out Robert Kubica and Hayden Paddon. Both retired in the opening stage after colliding with the same tree. Also in trouble were Eric Camilli, who crashed his Fiesta RS out of eighth and Lorenzo Bertelli who stopped after hitting a wall.
Saturday 23 January
Ogier pulls clear after Meeke's demise
Ogier finished Saturday with a near two-minute lead after his two closest challengers retired during a dramatic afternoon.
Meeke hit debris in the penultimate test, holing the sump guard on his DS 3 and damaging the gearbox, while Latvala slid into a ditch in SS11 and broke his front suspension. Although Ogier had won only one of the five stages, he journeyed south to Monaco with a 1min 59.7sec advantage over Mikkelsen. Neuville was 12.5sec back in third - and a double stage winner thanks to an inspired tyre choice.
Mads Østberg steered clear of trouble to hold fourth in his Ford Fiesta RS, more than three minutes clear of Stéphane Lefebvre's DS 3.
Sunday 23 January
Ogier collects third Monte win
With the pressure off, Ogier eased through the final leg to achieve a childhood ambition of winning Rallye Monte-Carlo for a third consecutive time. He ensured maximum points from the first round by also winning the final live TV Power Stage.
Ogier took victory by 1min 54.5sec from Mikkelsen, who limped through the final stage with only two-wheel drive. Neuville overcame transmission troubles of his own to secure third, a further 1min 23.4sec back.
Østberg was fourth ahead of Lefebvre, for whom fifth was a career-best result. Dani Sordo overcame handling and suspension problems to complete the top six.