Loeb fastest on Monte Shakedown Stage

In the build-up to the opening rounds of the 2015 World Rally Championship; the charismatic Monte Carlo Rally, Sebastien Loeb made a sensational return to the rallying with the fastest time on Wednesday afternoon's shakedown stage, four tenths of a second quicker than Citroen team-mate Kris Meeke. Earlier that morning, Loeb had rolled his recce car on the way to the stage when he came over a crest and missed a corner. A spokesman from the team said: "It wasn't a problem. Sebastien didn't miss any of the recce or anything like that, he was able to change the car and continue straight away."

Meeke was happy with his time, the Dungannon man's final run coming on studded tyres as he sought to find the feeling with the wrong tyres - a scenario that will test crews with heavy snow forecast overnight. Defending champion Sebastien Ogier was third fastest, 1.1s off Loeb, with his Volkswagen team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen a tenth of a second down in fourth place. Robert Kubica was fifth fastest on his debut with his new RK World Rally Team. Welshman and fellow Ford Fiesta RS WRC driver Elfyn Evans was 0.1s behind him in sixth place.

The crews will depart Gap on Thursday morning for press and PR formalities before taking the ceremonial start in the afternoon. The first stage is from Entrevaux to Rouaine, a 13-miler that starts at 20:21 local time.

22nd January, 2015