WRC 2016: Ogier wins third Rallye Monte-Carlo
Words: Jehan Adil Darukhanawala
Two time defending World Rally Champion Sebastien Ogier wins the first rally of the 2016 season at the famous Rallye Monte-Carlo. He joins the likes of rallying legends Tommi Makkinen and Sebastien Loeb who have won the rally thrice – the fifth driver to do so consecutively.
Ogier led team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen to give the Volkswagen Polo R, WRC’s first 1-2 of the season. The Polo R WRC too joins an illustrious list of rallying cars (Lancia Stratos, Mitsubishi Lancer, Citroen Xsara) to win the Monte-Carlo rally thrice. This is the 33rd victory of the team out of their 40 starts.
Citroen’s Kris Meeke didn’t make it easy for the defending champ as he led the field until he hit a rock causing severe damage to his gearbox forcing an unfortunate retirement. Meeke had a narrow lead over Ogier up until Saturday morning. The Brit lost the lead as he failed to notice a rock on course which clipped his belly-pan, damaging the gearbox in suit.
VW driver Jari-Matti Latvala too had a horrendous Monte-Carlo rally as a suspension failure and an altercation with a spectator on Sunday resulted in his retirement from the ‘Monte’. Latvala was battling with Mikkelsen for the third spot on Saturday. In his haste, Latvala drove off-the-road and damaged his suspension. The driver hit a spectator while rejoining the race. He was slapped with a one rally suspended ban as he failed to stop to acknowledge the incident. The fan though did not suffer any serious injuries.
Mikkelsen climbed up into second as a result of the retirees Meeke and Latvala. Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville kept the pressure on Mikkelsen for second but in the end had to settle for third. Hyundai had a disappointing Friday with both drivers Neuville and Dani Sordo struggling with handling issues. They did manage to eradicate the problems enabling their drivers to finish third and sixth respectively.
Ford’s Mads Ostberg kept Meeke’s team-mate Stefane Lefebvre at bay to claim fourth. Lefebrve claimed his maiden top-5 finish of his WRC career.
Ogier was disappointed on Meeke’s retirement as he enjoyed a challenge for the win. He added, “Winning here in Monte Carlo is such an emotional moment for me! It is just an indescribable feeling to win this iconic rally for the third time. The conditions were so tricky. It was so icy and slippery. I am really happy with this success. The Polo ran superbly.”
FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), Rally Monte Carlo – Final Results
- Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), Volkswagen, 3h 49m 53.1s
- Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jæger (N/N), Volkswagen, + 1m 54.5s
- Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (B/B), Hyundai, + 3m 17.9s
- Mads Østberg/Ola Fløene (N/N), Ford, + 4m 47.7s
- Stéphane Lefebvre/Gabin Moreau (F/F), Citroën, + 7m 35.6s
- Dani Sordo/Marc Martí (E/E), Hyundai, + 10m 35.5s
- Ott Tänak/Raigo Mõlder (EST/EST), Ford, + 11m 39.9s
- Elfyn Evans/Craig Parry (GB/GB), Ford, + 18m 30.8s
- Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (FIN/FIN), Škoda, + 20m 41.0s
- Armin Kremer/Pirmin Winklhofer (D/D), Škoda, + 20m 43.9s