Ogier Wins Monte Carlo Rally from Ot Tanak

Sebastien Ogier scored a commanding victory on the 2018 Monte Carlo Rally, leading from the very start despite spinning on the first ice-affected stage and his advantage over 2017 WRC team-mate Ott Tanak seesaw'd across Friday and Saturday. Tanak started to claw back time immediately and over the course of the day brought the gap down from 1m18.4s at its largest point to 33.5s. Ogier then repeated his flying form on Sunday, topping the famous Col de Turini stage and beating Tanak on the next two stages.

By this point Tanak had settled for second and even though Ogier did not think he had the best tyres for the powerstage, he still did enough to beat Tanak to a bonus point in fifth. Survival then crept into the rest of the Toyota camp over the final two days of the event once it became clear third was the best possible result for Jari-Matti Latvala and Esapekka Lappi.

The two were embroiled in a close fight until Lappi ran wide into a snow bank and gave himself a puncture which freed up Latvala to run comfortably to third, while Lappi fought back to fourth after dropping behind Kris Meeke and was 18s clear of the Northern Irishman heading into the final run, despite losing several seconds on the penultimate stage with a visit into a snowbank at an icy hairpin.

Meeke's attention was now focused on keeping the recovering Elfyn Evans and Thierry Neuville at bay but a stunning run on the powerstage saw him quickest, ahead of both - and it soon got even better for the Citroen driver. With fourth place in sight, Lappi slid wide on his powerstage run and lost half a minute trying to get back onto the road which dropped him behind Meeke, who was delighted to inherit fourth and five powerstage bonus points from a "horrendous weekend"!

Neuville gained two places on the final stage after overhauling Evans, and his unexpected fifth place was reward for his relentless fightback after sliding into a ditch and losing four minutes on the first stage. Evans was disappointed to lose out to the Hyundai after staging his own recovery from a puncture and half-spin across the rally's first two stages. Neuville's fifth place and four bonus points for the second-best powerstage effort also meant Hyundai had more to show from the opening rally than looked likely at one stage of the event. Dani Sordo was in the final podium position until his rally was ended by an off into a ditch on Saturday's opener, while Andreas Mikkelsen dropped out of contention on Friday with an alternator problem but returned under Rally 2 rules and picked up three points with the third-best time on the powerstage.

At the foot of the leading WRC finishers were Bryan Bouffier, who had a spin on the final day, and Craig Breen, whose rally was ruined early with a brake problem. Completing the top 10 was Jan Kopecky, Skoda's dominant WRC2 class winner.

Leading finishers

Pos Driver Team Car Gap

1 Sebastien Ogier, J.Ingrassia M-Sport Ford WRT 4h18m55.5s
2 Ott Tanak, M.Jarveoja Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT 58.3s
3 Jari-Matti Latvala, M.Anttila Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT 1m52.0s
4 Kris Meeke, P.Nagle Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT 4m43.1s
5 Thierry Neuville, N.Gilsoul Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT 4m53.8s
6 Elfyn Evans, D.Barritt M-Sport Ford WRT 4m54.8s
7 Esapekka Lappi, J.Ferm Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT 4m57.5s
8 Bryan Bouffier, X.Panseri M-Sport Ford WRT 7m39.5s
9 Craig Breen, S.Martin Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT 9m06.7s
10 Jan Kopecky, P.Dresler Skoda Motorsport II 16m43.0s

28th January, 2018