Monte-Carlo debrief: part 1
Rallye Monte-Carlo started the 2019 WRC season in the same thrilling fashion as the 2018 campaign ended. We look back at the highlights of a memorable weekend in the Alps.
Stage of the Rally
No arguments here. The tension was electric as Sébastien Ogier and Thierry Neuville waited in the regroup ahead of Sunday’s rally-ending Wolf Power Stage from La Cabanette to Col de Braus, with 0.4sec splitting them after almost 300km of action.
To add to the excitement, leader Ogier was nursing a throttle sensor problem on his Citroën C3. The scene was set for a cracking finale – and it didn’t disappoint.
Ogier was ahead at the opening split, Neuville fought back to move into the lead at the next time check before the Frenchman finally sealed his sixth consecutive Monte-Carlo win. Breathtaking stuff!
One to Forget
Things are different at M-Sport Ford World Rally Team in the post-Ogier era. Teemu Suninen and Elfyn Evans are leading the line at the British squad and the young Finn had just the start he didn’t need on Thursday night.
His Fiesta slithered into a ditch at an icy left bend and stayed there. To make matters worse, fellow countryman Kalle Rovanperä bounced his Skoda Fabia off the rear of Suninen’s car a few minutes later.
Surprise of the Rally
Should we be surprised? After little more than 300km of testing a Hyundai i20, Sébastien Loeb went out on the trickiest round of the championship and brought the car home in fourth on his debut for the Korean manufacturer.
An honourable mention also for Kris Meeke. On his first Toyota Yaris outing and with new co-driver Seb Marshall alongside for the first time, the Ulsterman won the Wolf Power Stage, was fastest in shakedown and would have been chasing a podium had it not been for three broken wheel rims.
You’ll Never Believe It
On a rally where the time gaps are traditionally measured in minutes rather than seconds, the leading duo finished just 2.2sec apart in the closest Monte-Carlo finish in history. More of the same please!
Neuville: late push not enough
Belgian admits Ogier gap was too much
Meeke off the knife edge
Briton praises confidence-giving Yaris
Ogier dispels throttle gossip
Frenchman worried about finishing