WRC Monte Carlo Rally 2015
In all honesty, Volkswagen’s domination over the icy and snowy roads of Monte Carlo surprised no one, however, the battle for first round proved to be interesting and a bit surprising. First leg of the rally was easily conquered by Sebastian Loeb, who dominated the roads in his Citröen DS3, scoring over 22 seconds advantage in his glorious WRC return. But, in the following stages, the advantage was suqeezed to mere three seconds by last year’s champion Sébastien Ogier in his all-new VW Polo R. The rivals were being followed by Latvala and Tänak, and Robert Kubica was back in the race, winning SS4 and SS5 in his Fiesta.
Ogier took over the lead in after SS7, and as SS9 was cancelled due to security reasons, the battle continued on SS10, the 51.7 kilometer-long stage, the Lardier et Valenca – Faye. There, Ogier had to be extremely cautious, which has cost him his huge advantage over his team mate Jari-Matti-Latvala. Ogier mantained his leading position until the very end, with Latvala, Loeb, Ostberg, Meeke and Mikkelsen scoring good results in the late stages. Kris Meeke won the Power Stage (SS15) with +0,2 compared to Loeb who came second. Unfortunately, Kubica crashed during the SS14 on the very finish, which caused him to retire from the ultimate stage of the rally.
At the end, it was a 1-2-3 podium for Volkswagen, with Ogier and his co-driver winning with 58.0 sec advantage over Jari-Matti Latvala who was 1:14.3 faster than his team mate Andreas Mikkelsen. After his season-opening win, Ogier commented: “Winning Monte-Carlo means a lot for every driver, but especially for me,” he said. “It’s the most important rally of the season. The weather makes it a huge challenge but the satisfaction is great when you make it.”
The second-placed Latvala had to say that it turned out to be better that he had expected, and that he succesfully stuck to the plan to make good tire choices and to drive consistently, which proved out to be a game changer on the season’s most difficult event for him. With 31.3 seconds behind the third placed Mikkelsen was Mads Ostberg in his Citröen DS3, who was forced to stop twice during the stages to fix the engine problems. Hyundai drivers Thierry Neuville and Dani Sordo were at the fifth and sixth place.
In spite of a great start, Loeb finished 8th, behind Elfyn Evans, and Kubica was the tragic figure of the event, winning four stages, but had to retire twice during the race, first time due to electrical problems, and the second time on SS14 after crashing near the finish line.
The next event is to take place in Sweden on 12 – 15 February. As the only true winter stage this year, it will be equally, if not more challenging. Will Ogier mantain his lead, and will the podium again be all-out VW? Follow us and find out!