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.
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
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:
|1|| Sébastien Ogier
|Toyota GR Yaris Rally1||RC1||3:12'02.0|
|2|| Kalle Rovanperä
|Toyota GR Yaris Rally1||RC1||3:12'20.8||18.8|
|3|| Thierry Neuville
|Hyundai i20 N Rally1||RC1||3:12'46.6||44.6|
|4|| Elfyn Evans
|Toyota GR Yaris Rally1||RC1||3:13'14.4||1'12.4|
|5|| Ott Tanak
|Ford Puma Rally1||RC1||3:14'36.9||2'34.9|
|6|| Takamoto Katsuta
|Toyota GR Yaris Rally1||RC1||3:15'34.6||3'32.6|
|7|| Dani Sordo
|Hyundai i20 N Rally1||RC1||3:15'49.5||3'47.5|
|8|| Esapekka Lappi
|Hyundai i20 N Rally1||RC1||3:15'53.3||3'51.3|
|9|| Nikolay Gryazin
|Škoda Fabia RS Rally2||RC2||3:22'05.4||10'03.4|
|10|| Yohan Rossel
|Citroën C3 Rally2||RC2||3:22'09.9||10'07.9|
|11|| Pepe Lopez
|Hyundai i20 N Rally2||RC2||3:23'16.1||11'14.1|
|12|| Erik Cais
|Škoda Fabia RS Rally2||RC2||3:23'35.8||11'33.8|
|13|| Adrien Fourmaux
|Ford Fiesta Rally2||RC2||3:24'01.8||11'59.8|
|14|| Oliver Solberg
|Škoda Fabia RS Rally2||RC2||3:24'20.6||12'18.6|
|15|| Chris Ingram
|Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo||RC2||3:25'12.1||13'10.1|
|16|| Marco Bulacia
|Škoda Fabia RS Rally2||RC2||3:26'50.4||14'48.4|
|17|| Ricardo Romagnoli
|Ford Fiesta Rally2||RC2||3:26'54.9||14'52.9|
|18|| Stéphane Lefebvre
|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|
Alejandro López Fernández
|Citroën C3 Rally2||RC2||3:28'50.8||16'48.8|
|21|| Matteo Gamba
|Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo||RC2||3:31'59.2||19'57.2|
|Škoda Fabia RS Rally2||RC2||3:32'46.6||20'44.6|
|Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo||RC2||3:35'43.4||23'41.4|
|24|| Jourdan Serderidis
|Ford Puma Rally1||RC1||3:38'52.2||26'50.2|
|25|| Christian Merli
|Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo||RC2||3:39'02.7||27'00.7|
|26|| Alessandro Gino
|Citroën C3 Rally2||RC2||3:40'04.0||28'02.0|
|27|| Johannes Keferbock
|Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo||RC2||3:40'24.0||28'22.0|
|28|| Philippe Baffoun
|Citroën C3 Rally2||RC2||3:41'50.0||29'48.0|
|Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo||RC2||3:42'42.1||30'40.1|
|Alpine A110 Rally RGT||RGT||3:44'32.0||32'30.0|
|31|| Romain Haut-Labourdette
|Škoda Fabia R5||RC2||3:45'28.4||33'26.4|
|Peugeot 208 Rally4||RC4||3:46'11.2||34'09.2|
|33|| Lorenzo Bontempelli
|Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo||RC2||3:47'24.3||35'22.3|
|Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo||RC2||3:48'35.8||36'33.8|
|Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo||RC2||3:49'02.6||37'00.6|
|Peugeot 208 Rally4||RC4||3:49'53.8||37'51.8|
|Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo||RC2||3:50'13.6||38'11.6|
|Alpine A110 Rally RGT||RGT||3:52'03.7||40'01.7|
|Alpine A110 Rally RGT||RGT||3:52'03.7||40'01.7|
|Škoda Fabia R5||RC2||3:53'17.6||41'15.6|
|Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo||RC2||3:54'19.8||42'17.8|
|42|| Massimiliano Pedala
|Opel Corsa Rally4||RC4||3:55'24.2||43'22.2|
|Peugeot 208 Rally4||RC4||3:55'32.2||43'30.2|
|Peugeot 208 Rally4||RC4||3:55'44.3||43'42.3|
|Hyundai i20 N Rally2||RC2||3:57'18.0||45'16.0|
|Renault Clio Rally5||RC5||4:00'14.8||48'12.8|
|Renault Clio Rally5||RC5||4:00'42.6||48'40.6|
|48|| Filippo Marchino
|Škoda Fabia R5||RC2||4:01'58.4||49'56.4|
|Renault Clio RS R3T||RC4||4:07'08.3||55'06.3|
|Renault Clio Rally5||RC5||4:07'34.1||55'32.1|
|Peugeot 208 Rally4||RC4||4:08'52.8||56'50.8|
|Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo||RC2||4:09'30.5||57'28.5|
|Peugeot 208 Rally4||RC4||4:09'30.7||57'28.7|
|Peugeot 208 Rally4||RC4||4:09'34.9||57'32.9|
|Renault Clio Rally5||RC5||4:10'40.0||58'38.0|
|56|| Henk Vossen
|Ford Fiesta R5||RC2||4:14'05.8||1:02'03.8|
|57|| Josh McErlean
|Hyundai i20 N Rally2||RC2||4:15'45.1||1:03'43.1|
|58|| Christophe Berard
|Renault Clio Rally5||RC5||4:17'33.2||1:05'31.2|
|59|| Olivier Burri
|Hyundai i20 N Rally2||RC2||4:23'05.9||1:11'03.9|
|Škoda Fabia R5||RC2||4:32'41.3||1:20'39.3|
|Citroën C3 Rally2||RC2||4:34'35.1||1:22'33.1|
|Peugeot 208 Rally4||RC4||4:36'27.2||1:24'25.2|
|Ford Fiesta R2T||RC4||4:39'24.7||1:27'22.7|
|Alpine A110 Rally RGT||RGT||4:42'35.0||1:30'33.0|
|Peugeot 208 R2||RC4||4:44'25.0||1:32'23.0|
|66|| Marc Dessi
|Renault Clio Rally5||RC5||4:53'24.6||1:41'22.6|
|Peugeot 208 Rally4||RC4||5:04'30.7||1:52'28.7|
| Pierre-Louis Loubet
|Ford Puma Rally1||RC1|
|Hyundai i20 N Rally2||RC2|
| Sean Johnston
|Citroën C3 Rally2||RC2|
| Eamonn Boland
Michael Joseph Morrissey
|Citroën C3 Rally2||RC2|
| Richard Frau
|Alpine A110 Rally RGT||RGT|
| Jonathan Hirschi
|Volkswagen Polo GTI R5||RC2|
|Volkswagen Polo GTI R5||RC2|
|Škoda Fabia RS Rally2||RC2|
|View full results|
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