Rally Monte Carlo winner Sebastien Ogier says his battle with Kris Meeke was no less easy than his fight with Sebastien Loeb during the previous year's event.
Meeke kicked off the event by taking the overall lead after the two night stages on Thursday, and continued to trade first place with Ogier the following day as the duo pulled well clear of the rest of the field.
”Kris was doing a great job with really strong pace, the fight this year was definitely not easier than with Loeb,” said Ogier.
”Every time I took it a little bit more careful on one tricky section in a stage, he immediately took some time back again.”
The Volkswagen driver managed to build an advantage of 30 seconds by the end of Day 3’s morning stages, before the battle was brought to a premature halt when Meeke’s rally came to an abrupt end on SS12 as the Citroen man damaged his gearbox after running over a rock.
”On a normal tarmac rally, you do start to feel safe at 30 seconds," Ogier admitted. "It’s hard to catch that gap on a normal rally and you think seriously about the win.
"But here it only takes the wrong tyres or just your rival taking more risk on the icy section and then this 30 seconds is [lost].”
"I really wanted this one"
”I cannot say I was not thinking a little bit to Spain when I started the Power Stage but the conditions were completely different," the Frenchman added.
”In Spain I relaxed a little, I didn't really need it, this one I really wanted. It was very important for the team, especially with only one car at the finish for the main team.”
Volkswagen secured a one-two finish with Andreas Mikkelsen taking second, but the German manufacturer is level with Hyundai atop the standings due to Jari-Matti Latvala crashing out on Day 3.