2013 World Rally Championship (WRC) champion, Sebastian Ogier, got his title defence right on track after winning the Monte Carlo Rally. The Volkswagen driver won seven stages out of 14 stages available in this five-day event.
His victory, however, was a hard-earned one following his wrong tyre choices that caused him to lost positions, followed by tough competition from Bryan Bouffier, Robert Kubica and Kris Meeke. The Frenchman charged his Polo-R in the later stages, utilizing his competitor’s misfortune when Bouffier spun off in SS9, and Kubica’s fine rally form came to a halt in an accident in SS9. The other Volkswagen of Jari-Matti Latvala completed the rally on fifth, after finishing ahead of Ogier on the power stage round.
“It’s been a tough weekend,” the Frenchman said. “I had it in my mind that victory was still possible when I lost a lot of time on the first day, but I’m happy the rally is finished.”
French privateer Bouffier impressed with an assured drive to second in his Ford Fiesta RS WRC. Bouffier cruised his Fiesta to led the rally for seven stages but gave way to Ogier after he spun off. Citroen’s Kris Meeke completed the top-three and was only 35s slower than Bouffier after 15 stages. There is cheers for rally fans from the UK as Meeke’s podium finishing is the first British to be on a podium after more than a decade. Meanwhile, it was disaster for Hyundai, when Thierry Neuville crashed heavily on the first stage and teammate Dani Sordo was forced to retire with a mechanical fault.
The next round is in the snowy stages of Sweden on 5–8 February.
Rallye Monte Carlo: Overall standings after Stage 15 (Top 20):
1. Sebastien Ogier Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC 3h 55m 14.4s
2. Bryan Bouffier M-Sport Ltd Ford Fiesta RS WRC +01m 18.9s
3. Kris Meeke Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +01m 54.3s
4. Mads Ostberg Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +03m 53.9s
5. Jari-Matti Latvala Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC +06m 08.3s
6. Elfyn Evans M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +08m 37.4s
7. Andreas Mikkelsen Volkswagen Motorsport II Polo R WRC +11m 42.3s
8. Jaroslav Melicharek Slovakia WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +21m 56.2s
9. Matteo Gamba Peugeot 207 S2000 +23m 50.7s
10. Yuriy Protasov Ford Fiesta R5 +25m 42.8s