WRC Monte Carlo: Dominant Ogier scores record ninth victory

World Rally Championship legend Sebastien Ogier has scored a record ninth Rally Monte Carlo victory following a dominant performance from the eight-time world champion and his Toyota team.

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Ogier and new co-driver Vincent Landais clinched nine of the 18 stages in what proved to be an unusually dry WRC season opener to claim a comfortable win by 18.8s from world champions Kalle Rovanpera and Jonne Halttunen.

Competing in only a partial campaign, Ogier once again outlined his supreme knowledge of the twisty Monte Carlo roads, and was never headed throughout the four days of competition.

After winning the first five stages, Ogier established a relatively comfortable lead initially over Toyota team-mate Elfyn Evans, who appeared to be the only driver able to compete with the Frenchman.

Ogier’s streak of stage wins was completed despite losing hybrid boost for two stages on Friday morning, and after a late gearbox change due to a clutch issue.

Once Evans suffered a right rear puncture in Stage 5, Ogier was gifted a lead he would extend to 36.0s before Rovanpera found his rhythm and began to whittle the advantage down.

Rovanpera managed to score four stage stage wins across Friday and Saturday to slash the deficit to 16.0s heading into Sunday’s stages, but he was unable to halt Ogier and settled for second. The Finn did however snatch the full points on the final powerstage.

The victory means Ogier has now pulled one clear of nine-time world champion Sebastian Loeb in their private battle for most Monte Carlo wins. The triumph is the first WRC victory for co-driver Landais.

Thierry Neuville, Martijn Wydaeghe, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1

Thierry Neuville, Martijn Wydaeghe, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1

Photo by: McKlein / Motorsport Images

Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville claimed the final spot on the podium, 44.6s adrift of Ogier as the South Korean marque struggled to contend with the dominant Toyota team. Toyota’s upgraded GR Yaris claimed 16 of the 18 stages, with Hyundai only breaking the drought on Saturday’s Stage 12 courtesy of Neuville, who snatched two stage victories to cement third.

The Belgian’s rally began with a lucky escape on Stage 2 when he skated into a bank after being caught out by black ice. Neuville inherited third after Evans’ puncture but he couldn’t close in on the leading Toyotas. This was largely due to a set up direction taken by the team that had expected more wintry conditions prior to the event.

Having shown arguably the best pace outside of Ogier, Evans was unable to recover the 40s lost to the puncture on Friday and finished fourth. The Welshman did boost his points tally by finishing third on the powerstage.

Ott Tanak’s first outing in the M-Sport Ford Puma resulted in the Estonian finishing fifth overall. The 2019 world champion did run as high as third after Thursday’s opening stages, but then struggled to acclimatise to the Puma’s characteristics. An intermittent power steering issue on Saturday then dropped him from fourth to fifth.

Tanak made progress in extracting speed from the car to deliver an extra four points from the powerstage after being pipped to the stage win by Rovanpera by 0.6s.

It ultimately proved to be a challenging weekend for M-Sport’s sister manufacturer entry driven by Pierre-Louis Loubet. The Frenchman was holding eighth before an off on Stage 5 which severely damaged his power steering, and without a midday service, he had to continue for three stages without steering assistance.

Loubet returned on Sunday but a water leak followed by a lack of fuel ultimately forced him out of the event.

A solid run from Toyota’s Takamoto Katsuta netted the Japanese driver sixth but it wasn’t without drama on the final powerstage. A suspected rear suspension failure created late drama, but he was able to haul the GR Yaris home ahead Hyundai duo Dani Sordo and Esapekka Lappi.

The Hyundai pair struggled to find the set up sweet spot aboard their i20 Ns. Sordo suffered from persistent hybrid problems, while Lappi struggled to adapt to the new car, and was hit by a puncture on Saturday.

The WRC2 honours were claimed by Skoda driver Nikolay Gryazin, who edged Citroen’s Yohan Rossel by 4.5s.

UPDATE: Rossel has been awarded the WRC2 victory after a protest made against Gryazin was upheld by FIA stewards following a hearing.

Officials have imposed a five second penalty to Gryazin after he was found to have breached Article 19.2 of the 2023 FIA WRC Sporting Regulations during Stage 14. During the test Gryazin cut a corner at the 13.2km mark.

Gryazin had suffered a front right puncture prior to cutting the corner. As a result of the penalty, Rossel has been declared the winner with Gryazin demoted to second, 0.5s behind the Citroen driver.

Monte Carlo results:

Cla Driver/Codriver Car Class Total Time Gap
1 France Sébastien Ogier
France Vincent Landais
Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 RC1 3:12'02.0  
2 Finland Kalle Rovanperä
Finland Jonne Halttunen
Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 RC1 3:12'20.8 18.8
3 Belgium Thierry Neuville
Belgium Martijn Wydaeghe
Hyundai i20 N Rally1 RC1 3:12'46.6 44.6
4 United Kingdom Elfyn Evans
United Kingdom Scott Martin
Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 RC1 3:13'14.4 1'12.4
5 Estonia Ott Tanak
Estonia Martin Jarveoja
Ford Puma Rally1 RC1 3:14'36.9 2'34.9
6 Japan Takamoto Katsuta
Ireland Aaron Johnston
Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 RC1 3:15'34.6 3'32.6
7 Spain Dani Sordo
Candido Carrera
Hyundai i20 N Rally1 RC1 3:15'49.5 3'47.5
8 Finland Esapekka Lappi
Finland Janne Ferm
Hyundai i20 N Rally1 RC1 3:15'53.3 3'51.3
9 Russian Federation Nikolay Gryazin
Russian Federation Konstantin Aleksandrov
Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 RC2 3:22'05.4 10'03.4
10 France Yohan Rossel
Arnaud Dunand
Citroën C3 Rally2 RC2 3:22'09.9 10'07.9
11 Spain Pepe Lopez
Borja Rozada
Hyundai i20 N Rally2 RC2 3:23'16.1 11'14.1
12 Czech Republic Erik Cais
Petr Těšínský
Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 RC2 3:23'35.8 11'33.8
13 France Adrien Fourmaux
France Alexandre Coria
Ford Fiesta Rally2 RC2 3:24'01.8 11'59.8
14 Sweden Oliver Solberg
United Kingdom Elliott Edmondson
Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 RC2 3:24'20.6 12'18.6
15 United Kingdom Chris Ingram
United Kingdom Craig Drew
Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo RC2 3:25'12.1 13'10.1
16 Bolivia Marco Bulacia
Axel Coronado
Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 RC2 3:26'50.4 14'48.4
17 Luxembourg Ricardo Romagnoli
Belgium Louis Louka
Ford Fiesta Rally2 RC2 3:26'54.9 14'52.9
18 France Stéphane Lefebvre
France Andy Malfoy
Citroën C3 Rally2 RC2 3:27'45.9 15'43.9
19 François Delecour
Sabrina de Castelli
Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 RC2 3:28'12.6 16'10.6
20 Alejandro Cachón
Spain Alejandro López Fernández
Citroën C3 Rally2 RC2 3:28'50.8 16'48.8
21 Matteo Gamba
Nicolò Gonella
Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo RC2 3:31'59.2 19'57.2
22 Mauro Miele
Luca Beltrame
Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 RC2 3:32'46.6 20'44.6
23 Bruno Riberi
Florian Haut-Labourdette
Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo RC2 3:35'43.4 23'41.4
24 Greece Jourdan Serderidis
Frédéric Miclotte
Ford Puma Rally1 RC1 3:38'52.2 26'50.2
25 Italy Christian Merli
Marco Zortea
Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo RC2 3:39'02.7 27'00.7
26 Italy Alessandro Gino
Daniele Michi
Citroën C3 Rally2 RC2 3:40'04.0 28'02.0
27 Johannes Keferbock
Ilka Minor
Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo RC2 3:40'24.0 28'22.0
28 France Philippe Baffoun
Charlyne Quartini
Citroën C3 Rally2 RC2 3:41'50.0 29'48.0
29 Luc Pistachi
Laëtitia Authier
Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo RC2 3:42'42.1 30'40.1
30 Loïc Panagiotis
Caroline Goddi
Alpine A110 Rally RGT RGT 3:44'32.0 32'30.0
31 Romain Haut-Labourdette
Fabien Tardito
Škoda Fabia R5 RC2 3:45'28.4 33'26.4
32 Mickaël Prévalet
Jofrey Courtet
Peugeot 208 Rally4 RC4 3:46'11.2 34'09.2
33 Italy Lorenzo Bontempelli
Giovanni Pina
Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo RC2 3:47'24.3 35'22.3
34 Jean-Charles Albertini
France Patrick Chiappe
Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo RC2 3:48'35.8 36'33.8
35 Simone Niboli
Battista Brunetti
Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo RC2 3:49'02.6 37'00.6
36 Ghjuvanni Rossi
Maxime Martini
Peugeot 208 Rally4 RC4 3:49'53.8 37'51.8
37 Zoltán László
Hungary Gabor Zsiros
Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo RC2 3:50'13.6 38'11.6
38 David Ferraro
Michel Corneglio
Alpine A110 Rally RGT RGT 3:52'03.7 40'01.7
39 Eric Royere
France Gilbert Dini
Alpine A110 Rally RGT RGT 3:52'03.7 40'01.7
40 Yanis Desangles
Nicolas Theron
Škoda Fabia R5 RC2 3:53'17.6 41'15.6
41 Silvano Patera
Stefano Tiraboschi
Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo RC2 3:54'19.8 42'17.8
42 Italy Massimiliano Pedala
Denis Piceno
Opel Corsa Rally4 RC4 3:55'24.2 43'22.2
43 Wolfgang Irlacher
Elke Irlacher
Peugeot 208 Rally4 RC4 3:55'32.2 43'30.2
44 Matteo Fontana
Alessandro Arnaboldi
Peugeot 208 Rally4 RC4 3:55'44.3 43'42.3
45 William Creighton
Liam Regan
Hyundai i20 N Rally2 RC2 3:57'18.0 45'16.0
46 Nicolas Ressegaire
Marina Micheli
Renault Clio Rally5 RC5 4:00'14.8 48'12.8
47 Jérémy Prat
Yves Semete
Renault Clio Rally5 RC5 4:00'42.6 48'40.6
48 Filippo Marchino
Pietro Elia
Škoda Fabia R5 RC2 4:01'58.4 49'56.4
49 Jérôme Aymard
Sandrine Aymard
Renault Clio RS R3T RC4 4:07'08.3 55'06.3
50 Julien Charnay
Maxime Gomez
Renault Clio Rally5 RC5 4:07'34.1 55'32.1
51 Baudouin Baugé
Nicolas Blanc
Peugeot 208 Rally4 RC4 4:08'52.8 56'50.8
52 Fabrizio Arengi
Massimiliano Bosi
Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo RC2 4:09'30.5 57'28.5
53 Sebastiano Ciato
Andrea Budoia
Peugeot 208 Rally4 RC4 4:09'30.7 57'28.7
54 Gilles Michellier
Christophe Richard
Peugeot 208 Rally4 RC4 4:09'34.9 57'32.9
55 Lilian Vialle
Manuel Ghirardello
Renault Clio Rally5 RC5 4:10'40.0 58'38.0
56 Netherlands Henk Vossen
Annemieke Hulzebos
Ford Fiesta R5 RC2 4:14'05.8 1:02'03.8
57 Ireland Josh McErlean
John Rowan
Hyundai i20 N Rally2 RC2 4:15'45.1 1:03'43.1
58 France Christophe Berard
France Christophe Bernabo
Renault Clio Rally5 RC5 4:17'33.2 1:05'31.2
59 Switzerland Olivier Burri
France Anderson Levratti
Hyundai i20 N Rally2 RC2 4:23'05.9 1:11'03.9
60 Pierre Tanci
Sébastien Malet
Škoda Fabia R5 RC2 4:32'41.3 1:20'39.3
61 Daniel Alonso
Adrián Pérez
Citroën C3 Rally2 RC2 4:34'35.1 1:22'33.1
62 Jean-Paul Palmero
Mattia Pastorino
Peugeot 208 Rally4 RC4 4:36'27.2 1:24'25.2
63 Jérémie Mallard
Alexis Marest-Ceccaldi
Ford Fiesta R2T RC4 4:39'24.7 1:27'22.7
64 Grégory Fontalba
Stéphan Hermet
Alpine A110 Rally RGT RGT 4:42'35.0 1:30'33.0
65 Giorgio Marazzato
Elisa Sommariva
Peugeot 208 R2 RC4 4:44'25.0 1:32'23.0
66 Marc Dessi
Pamela Dessi
Renault Clio Rally5 RC5 4:53'24.6 1:41'22.6
67 Grégory Dal
Hervé Dubreuil
Peugeot 208 Rally4 RC4 5:04'30.7 1:52'28.7
  France Pierre-Louis Loubet
Belgium Nicolas Gilsoul
Ford Puma Rally1 RC1    
  Frédéric Rosati
Philippe Marchetto
Hyundai i20 N Rally2 RC2    
  United States Sean Johnston
Alexander Kihurani
Citroën C3 Rally2 RC2    
  Ireland Eamonn Boland
Ireland Michael Joseph Morrissey
Citroën C3 Rally2 RC2    
  Richard Frau
Stéphane Marquez
Alpine A110 Rally RGT RGT    
  Switzerland Jonathan Hirschi
Switzerland Michael Volluz
Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 RC2    
  Pierre Pergola
Fabrice Corona
Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 RC2    
  Sami Pajari
Enni Mälkönen
Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 RC2    
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