Loeb holds onto lead at Monte Carlo

Winning the first stage, and a strong performance in the second kept former World Champion Sebastien Loeb's chances afloat, taking home the overall lead on day one of the classic rally.

Loeb holds onto lead at Monte Carlo
Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena, Citroën DS3 WRC, Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team
Sébastien Loeb, Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team
Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena, Citroën DS3 WRC, Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team
Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena, Citroën DS3 WRC, Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team
Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia, Volkswagen Polo WRC, Volkswagen Motorsport
Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Motorsport
Ott Tanak, M-Sport Ford
Robert Kubica
Robert Kubica and Maciek Szczepaniak, Ford Fiesta WRC
Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia, Volkswagen Polo WRC, Volkswagen Motorsport
Ott Tanak and Molder Raigo, M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC

As if yesterday’s performance in the short shakedown wasn’t enough to tell his competitors who owns the road of Monte Carlo, Sebastien Loeb came back to hold the overall lead in tough conditions.

Currently, his lead is only 13.3 seconds after a little over 30 minutes racing, but his main competition is no slouch either.

Running right on Loeb’s heels is reigning World Champion Sebastien Ogier, who won the days second stage, beating Jari-Matti Latvala by ten seconds, while Loeb was 17 seconds adrift in third.

Tire choice is going to be key if the conditions continue, in true Monte Carlo fashion, going from dry tarmac to black ice, slush and snow.

“It was okay but a lot of gravel everywhere in every corner. I had a good tyre choice for the first stage but it wasn't the best for the second. I passed two cars in there - I'm not sure who they were,” Loeb told WRC.com.

“I said to Daniel (Elena) three kilometres before the end that it felt like we were stopped. The road was full of ice everywhere and it was very, very difficult. But I’m happy for this time.”

But at the end of the day, 13.3 seconds is the gap from Loeb to Ogier overall, with Latvala a little over a half minute behind.

Monte Carlo's classic weather conditions

The conditions were the topic of the day, even before the actual competition began as drivers discovered them in reconnaissance.

“Even the recce was a challenge,” Kris Meeke told WRC.com. “We had everything from dry tarmac, wet tarmac, patchy damp, black ice, ice, frost, slush, snow, fog and all within a few kilometres! It’s just a crazy rally.” 

Top five after day one

Rounding out the top five after today’s stages was Ott Tanak, who surprised himself with his performance, and Elfyn Evans, who came in 47 seconds behind Loeb on the day, with countryman Kris Meek coming in a few seconds back in 6th.

Tanak said he was happy to be that high on the charts after the first day.

“The grip was changing a lot. There was a lot of gravel on the road too. I have done a lot better than I was expecting. I enjoyed it,” he said.

Tough day for Kubica

One notable driver who had issues today was Robert Kubica, who finds himself towards the bottom of the charts after suffering a spin on the second leg of today’s stage.

“We spun, and when we were in reverse we lost the lights and the alternator I think. First I lost all lights then the car was switching on and off,” he said. ”We managed to reset it and get going - which is the main thing - but we lost a lot of time."

POS # DRIVER TIME DIFF PREV DIFF 1ST
1. 4 S. LOEB 30:08.2    
2. 1 S. OGIER 30:21.5 +13.3 +13.3
3. 2 J. LATVALA 30:44.3 +22.8 +36.1
4. 6 O. TANAK 30:46.8 +2.5 +38.6
5. 5 E. EVANS 30:55.6 +8.8 +47.4
6. 3 K. MEEKE 31:08.0 +12.4 +59.8
7. 9 A. MIKKELSEN 31:08.1 +0.1 +59.9
8. 7 T. NEUVILLE 31:15.0 +6.9 +1:06.8
9. 12 M. OSTBERG 31:16.9 +1.9 +1:08.7
10. 14 H. SOLBERG 31:25.8 +8.9 +1:17.6
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Loeb wastes no time at Monte Carlo

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