Sebastien Ogier wins the 2017 Rallye Monte-Carlo
The defending world rally champion Sebastien Ogier wins the Rallye Monte-Carlo, the opening round of the 2017 World Rally Championship, driving the #1 Ford Fiesta RS WRC 17 for the M-Sport World Rally Team. This is the fourth consecutive and fifth in a career victory for Ogier at Monte-Carlo.
Ott Tanak doubles up Ford’s triumph, finishing in the third place. Jari-Matti Latvala finished second with #10 Toyota Yaris WRC, bringing the first podium for the Japanese manufacturer in the WRC return after their withdrawal from the competition in 1999.
The 85th edition of Rallye Monte-Carlo was a real Monte-Carlo, exactly like we used to during the decades of this unique event in the WRC calendar, with unpredictable and changing road conditions which caused many mistakes and shocking moments. Unfortunately, the first WRC event with much awaited all-new 2017-spec World Rally Cars took one fatal casualty, on the very first stage at Thursday night when Hayden Paddon rolled his #4 Hyundai i20 Coupe and hit the spectator. Following that accident, Hyundai withdrew Paddon’s car from the event.
Neuville was the fastest, but the speed is not enough for the win
Paddon’s teammate Thierry Neuville was a dominant man during the first three days, winning five out of twelve special stages until Saturday afternoon, having a 51-second advantage over Ogier. But, one small mistake on Stage 13 cost him a lot, he went wide in one corner, hit the right rear wheel and broke the suspension.
It was the last stage of Saturday so Neuville managed to reach the service, losing more than half an hour, and he was fighting for Power stage points on Sunday.
Event to forget for Kris Meeke
The one who had no opportunity to drive on the last day was Citroen’s Kris Meeke. His troubles started on Friday morning when he retired from the second place with damaged suspension after he went off the road at Stage 4. He returned on Saturday under Rally-2 rules.
On Saturday’s SS10 he stopped again to make some repairs but continued and finished the day. And then, on the road section from Gap to Monaco, his Citroen C3 WRC was hit by another vehicle and the Briton had to retire from the race.
Nobody’s immune on the problems
Almost everybody had problems with off-road trips because of slippy roads, even Ogier, who lost more than 40 seconds in a ditch on Friday morning’s SS3. He dropped to 8th place but after that, until the end of a day, he returned to the 2nd place, ahead of his teammate Ott Tanak.
During Saturday’s stages, the Top 4 order wasn’t changing until SS13, with Jari-Matti Latvala following one Hyundai and two Fords. Dani Sordo (Hyundai) was fighting for the 5th place against Craig Breen in the last year’s Citroen DS3 WRC. After Neuville’s mistake on the SS13, Ogier came to the lead for the first time and stayed there. Neuville’s misfortune promoted Latvala to the podium, the first for Toyota after Japanese manufacturer left WRC in 1999.
Last day’s drama for Ott Tanak
The new drama on the top of the order followed on Sunday morning, when Ott Tanak’s Ford was working with only two instead of four cylinders. It slowed him down, he was even late five minutes on the time control point, getting a 50-second penalty. He lost the second place to Latvala but defended the podium on the last stage over the Col de Turini, ahead of Dani Sordo and Craig Breen.
The penultimate stage (SS16, Luceram – Col St Roch) was cancelled due to security reasons, because too many spectators were on the unsafe places. The last stage La Bollene Vesubie – Peira Cava was the Power Stage, with additional points for five fastest drivers. The weather conditions worsened as the time goes, so drivers who started among first were the fastest. Thierry Neuville scored his sixth stage win to get five points. Other point scorers on the Power Stage were Stephane Lefebvre, Juho Hanninen, Elfyn Evans and Dani Sordo.
Andreas Mikkelsen finished seventh overall and the winner in the WRC 2 class, driving the Škoda Fabia R5 for Škoda Motorsport. He won ahead of teammate Jan Kopecky and Bryan Bouffier in the Ford Fiesta R5.