Ogier dispels throttle gossip
Rallye Monte-Carlo winner Sébastien Ogier insisted his final day throttle problem was not merely gamesmanship in a bid to derail Thierry Neuville’s victory charge.
The Frenchman claimed a highly emotional sixth consecutive Monte-Carlo victory on Sunday after a gripping final stage showdown with Neuville. The win, on his debut drive in a Citroën C3, followed an intense four-day duel between the pair in the French Alps.
Less than a handful of seconds split the pair during the final leg above Monaco, but Ogier’s bid to fend off the Belgian was hampered by a sensor issue which caused his throttle to intermittently stick open under braking.
Post-rally rumours suggested Ogier was playing mind games with his rival but the world champion maintained he was worried the problem would force him to retire.
“It made our life difficult and stressful because I didn’t know if it would fail completely or push us out of the road at some point because the car was often staying with some throttle, even when I lifted off. I didn’t know if I could finish,” he said.
“It wasn’t so nice to drive. We managed to make a small fix. It wasn’t perfect but it avoided that problem of pushing. I didn’t have the response I wanted but at least I could drive.”
Ogier said the problem first appeared on Saturday evening’s long road section from Gap to Monaco. There was no service ahead of the final day so he knew he would have to persevere through the final four tests.
His emotions were clear for all to see at the end of the final Wolf Power Stage when he learned he had held off Neuville’s Hyundai i20 to win by 2.2sec in the closest-ever finish to a Rallye Monte-Carlo.
“Everyone knows that Monte is my rally, the one I want to win the most and, of course, with the problem today I wasn’t sure it would happen. This one is really, really special. Six in a row here in Monte with three different cars, I think we can be proud of that,” Ogier added.
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