Ogier Wins Monte as Meeke Retires

Sebastien Ogier claimed victory on the opening round the 2016 World Rally Championship with his third straight Monte Carlo Rally win, made easier when his closest challenger throughout the event; Kris Meeke, hit a rock in his PH Sport-run Citroen and sustained terminal damage to his car's gearbox.

It had taken until Saturday morning for Ogier's Volkswagen Polo to make a break from Meeke's Citroen and the Northern Irishman's exit left Ogier disappointed, having enjoyed the close competition. The World Champion was then able to carry a two-minute advantage to the finish, also winning Sunday's Powerstage too.

Ogier's team-mate and potential title rival Jari-Matti Latvala made a dismal start to his championship bid, leaving Monte Carlo with zero points and a suspended one-rally ban, following a battle with Andreas Mikkelsen for third place when he went off on the first stage of Saturday afternoon and broke his car's suspension. Latvala then hit a photographer as he tried to rejoin - incurring a 3,800 fine and the ban for failing to stop at the scene!

Mikkelsen moved into a second place, which he held to the finish despite heavy pressure from Thierry Neuville in the new Hyundai who'd won two straight stages before the car ran into transmission trouble, but although he dropped a minute on the last stage of the rally, Neuville had enough in hand to still seal a podium on the new i20's debut.

Sordo recovered to sixth behind M-Sport's Mads Ostberg and Meeke's team-mate Stephane Lefebvre after hitting a bank on Saturday morning. Hayden Paddon spent most of the weekend running under Rally 2 in the 2015 Hyundai, having gone off on Friday.

Welsh M-sport driver Elfyn Evans began his return to WRC2 with a convincing class win and eighth overall despite two punctures.

24th January, 2016