The joy of the French driver Sébastien Ogier (M-Sport Ford) after his 5th consecutive victory in the Monte Carlo Rally on January 28, 2018 in Monte-Carlo
A small form and some fears did not prevent the Frenchman Sébastien Ogier (M-Sport Ford) to win Sunday his fifth consecutive victory in the Monte Carlo Rally confirming, if it still needed, his status as a man to beat in 2018.
Before the five-time defending world champion, ahead of Toyota’s Estonian Ott Tänak and Finland’s Jari-Matti Latvala, no rider had won the event more than four times.
With this sixth success in his „heart rally“, the native of Gap (south-east of France), where is the service park, is approaching the record of seven victories held by Sebastien Loeb and begins the season of the best of ways.
Ogier settled in his favorite spot since 2013, the head of the World Championship, with 26 points and eight lengths ahead of his first pursuer, Tänak.
„Often at Monte Carlo, the conditions are complicated but it was particularly difficult, commented the winner, at the end, we impose ourselves and I am super happy.“
The second most successful driver in WRC history – behind compatriot Loeb, 9 consecutive titles from 2004 to 2012 – took control of this 86th edition in the first stage played Thursday night night, although sick and despite a head-to-tail without consequence.
– Tänak already operational –
Frenchman Sébastien Ogier (M-Sport Ford) with his wife after his 5th consecutive victory in the Monte Carlo Rally on January 28, 2018 in Monte-Carlo
Rebelote Friday, with a little luck, spectators having quickly removed from the ditch in which he had come to land. Saturday and Sunday were calmer, without excessive risk taking.
„You had to be regular, try not to make mistakes, I did it, they cost me time, but maybe not as much as the others,“ he agreed.
In addition to Ogier, it was Toyota, back in WRC in 2017, and his rookie Tänak who impressed. The Estonian, third last season with M-Sport, seems to have already taken the measure of his new car.
„There’s always a lot of excitement when you change teams and I do not know what to expect, so it’s a big relief!“, He said.
„We are surprised to see how quickly he has adapted,“ added his new boss, Tommi Mäkinen, quadruple world champion (1996-1999).
It’s the opposite of Hyundai, who hoped to have put aside this winter the lack of regularity that deprived of title last year.
– Hyundai and Citroen can do better –
Belgian Thierry Neuville, vice-world champion, managed to snatch fifth place after a spin that cost him more than four minutes in SS1 but preferred to retain the positive.
„We had a good rally,“ he said, „My mistake on Thursday is really unfortunate, but it’s the Monte Carlo, everyone makes mistakes, and without that and our puncture, a podium was possible.“
Norway’s Andreas Mikkelsen and Spaniard Dani Sordo gave up on a breakdown and a road exit.
Briton Kris Meeke at the wheel of his Citroën during the 10th stage of the Monte-Carlo Rally between St-Léger-Les-Mélèzes and La Bâtie-Neuve, January 28, 2018
Citroen, which hopes to rebound after disappointing last year, has still had a complicated weekend. The fourth place of the British Kris Meeke, best time of the Power Stage, should not hide that the C3 did not respond well in the precarious conditions of adherence of the mountain roads used by the rally.
Bryan Bouffier, the second-ranked Frenchman in the top-flight category at M-Sport Ford, is eighth at the end of a weekend that did not go exactly as planned.
Slightly injured in a collision during the recognitions, his co-driver Jerome Degout has indeed been replaced at short notice by Xavier Panseri, just back from the Dakar (FRA).
Rendez-vous is taken mid-February in Sweden for the second round of the season.