Ogier Scores his 8th Monte Carlo Rally Win

Toyato's Sebastien Ogier has begun his last World Rally Championship year by scoring the eighth Monte Carlo victory of his career, also marking his 50th WRC victory. The defending champion broke the record of seven Monte Carlo wins set by, Sebastien Loeb, and equaled Walter Rohrl's 37-year-old record of winning the Monte with four different manufacturers during his career.

Ogier claimed victory on three of Sunday's four stages, including the Power Stage with its five additional points to be added to both his own score and, for the first time in WRC history, to the manufacturers' championship total too. Seb's Toyota team mate Elfyn Evans finished second, completing a a 1-2-3 in the Power Stage points with team coming-man Kalle Rovanpera.

Hyundai's Thierry Neuville fought valiantly against the might of the Toyota juggernaut, finishing third place overall alongside his rookie co-driver Martijn Wydaeghe. The Belgian took a blistering win on the penultimate test of the day but chose to settle for the bottom step of the podium rather than attempting to put pressure on Evans for second.

Rovanpera's Toyota finished fourth with the Hyundai of Dani Sordo splitting him from the Yaris of Toyota junior driver Takamoto Katsuta. Ogier was emotional at the finish as he celebrated such a landmark achievement: "It's not a bad end of the weekend. The car's been amazing, I really enjoyed the weekend, it's been such a pleasure so I think I almost have tears in my eyes now.

For his part, runner-up Evans took consolation from looking at the big picture after bagging a good haul of points towards his 2021 championship ambitions: "It's been good but I just felt never 100 percent as it should have been. Of course there were some good stages but never consistently where I would have really liked to be? Seb was better this weekend."

The event marked the debut of Toyota's new team principal, Jari-Matti Latvala, who expressed delight with his team's achievements but the euphoria in the Toyota camp was the polar opposite of the emotions being shown by its rivals at Hyundai and M-Sport. Leader on the first day, Ott Tanak, was unable to restart on Sunday after two punctures on the penultimate day, and both Neuville and Sordo were forced to reduce pace to secure the team's points.

M-Sport's chances of getting on the podium disappeared off the side of a mountain on the opening stage of the rally, along with the Fiesta WRC of Teemu Suninen, leaving Gus Greensmith to fight on alone to finish in eighth place as the last of the top runners after a performance that he wants to put behind him as soon as possible.

Seventh place overall had been claimed by dominant winner of the WRC2 category, Andreas Mikkelsen, at the wheel of his Tok Sport Skoda Fabia. Like Ogier, the Norwegian veteran started the event as odds-on favourite and put pressure on himself to dominate the category in his bid to return to a works WRC seat for 2022. In WRC3, Yoann Rossel survived a late scare after his right rear tyre came off the rim on the final stage, but had enough in hand over his fellow Citroen drivers to claim the win.

Final results :
Position Driver/Co-driver Car Class Total Time Gap
1. Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia Toyota Yaris 2:56'33.700
2. Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin Toyota Yaris 2:57'06.300 32.600
3. Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe Hyundai 2:57'42.200 1'08.500
4. Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen Toyota Yaris 2:58'57.300'23.600
5. Dani Sordo/Carlos del Barrio Hyundai i20 2:59'42.900 3'09.200
6. Takamoto Katsuta/Daniel Barritt Toyota Yaris 3:03'35.000 7'01.300
7. Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Floene Skoda Fabia 3:03'47.300 7'13.600
8. Gus Greensmith/Elliott Edmondson Ford :04'44.800 8'11.100
9. Adrien Fourmaux/Renaud Jamoul Ford 3:05'39.500 9'05.800
10. Eric Camilli/François-Xavier Buresi Citroen 3:06'24.700 9'51.000

24th January, 2021