WRC Monte Carlo: Loeb beats Ogier to take eighth Monte win in epic battle

Sebastien Loeb held off Sebastien Ogier in a final stage showdown between the World Rally Championship’s greatest drivers to claim an eighth Monte Carlo win on debut for M-Sport.

The two WRC legends waged a rally-long battle for victory with the lead changing hands across four brutal days of competition as the WRC ushered in its new Rally1 hybrid era.

Ultimately the rally was decided in a final stage shootout, after Loeb was handed a 9.5s lead when Toyota’s Ogier suffered a front-left puncture on the penultimate test.

Loeb and co-driver Isabelle Galmiche kept their nerve in the final Power Stage to see off Ogier and new co-driver Benjamin Veillas, to take an eighth Monte Carlo rally win by 10.5s.

There was more drama in the final stage as Ogier was handed a 10s jump start penalty, and had he not incurred the sanction the overall gap to Loeb would have been just 0.5s.

Ogier, also running a partial campaign, initially led the rally from Loeb after winning Thursday’s opening two stages before Loeb dominated Friday to take four of the six stages, ending the day with a 9.9s lead.

On Saturday, Ogier fought back with the pair briefly level pegging on overall times, before surging into a 21.1s lead after dominant run in Stage 13.

Ogier appeared on course for victory until late drama in the penultimate stage on Sunday which left him too much time to recover to overhaul Loeb on the final stage.

Sébastien Ogier, Benjamin Veillas, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Sébastien Ogier, Benjamin Veillas, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

The victory was Loeb’s 80th and first since winning Rally Spain for Citroen in 2018, the same season M-Sport last scored a WRC victory at Rally GB.

Likewise, the win was also the first for a female co-driver since Fabrizia Pons partnered Subaru’s Piero Liatti to success at Monte Carlo in 1997.

M-Sport’s Craig Breen completed the podium on his debut for the British squad driving one of four brand new Ford Pumas.

The Irishman had been outside the top five for the majority of the rally until Toyota’s Elfyn Evans and Hyundai pair Thierry Neuville and Ott Tanak all hit trouble on Saturday. This allowed Breen to climb from sixth to third, where he continued his measured approach to claim a fourth consecutive WRC podium.

Toyota’s Kalle Rovanpera produced the turnaround of the weekend to claim fourth having struggled to adjust to the new Rally1 Toyota GR Yaris across the opening two days of action. The Finn ended the rally with three stages wins, including the Power Stage and the extra five championship points it carries.

M-Sport ensured three of its cars finished in the top five courtesy of Gus Greensmith, who could have finished higher had he not suffered a puncture and engine misfire on Saturday. The Brit showed strong pace throughout including recording a maiden WRC stage win on Friday.

The only blemish in the Ford team’s copybook was a retirement from Adrien Fourmaux, who was lucky to walk away from a huge crash on Friday’s first stage.

Thierry Neuville claimed sixth in the sole remaining Hyundai in what proved to be a disappointing start the new hybrid era for the Korean brand. Neuville struggled to adapt to his i20 N, labelling it “scary” to drive on Friday, but the Belgian made steady progress until his front right damper broke on Saturday, dropping him from fourth position.

Thierry Neuville, Martijn Wydaeghe, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1

Thierry Neuville, Martijn Wydaeghe, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1

Photo by: Bastien Baudin / Hyundai Motorsport

Neuville managed to complete the remaining stages and even scored a stage win on Sunday, the first for Hyundai this season.

Team-mate Tanak retired on Saturday night after suffering a two punctures and a crash on the slippery snow and ice section of the Sisteron stage. Oliver Solberg, driving the third entry, retired on Sunday feeling unwell after breathing in exhaust fumes that had been coming into the car since Friday.

Evans ended the rally salvaging four points after finishing the Power Stage in second after surrendering a long held third spot on Saturday.

Takamoto Katsuta managed to bounce back from a crash on Saturday afternoon to score points in eighth.

In WRC2, defending champion Andreas Mikkelsen claimed victory.

WRC Monte Carlo Rally results

Cla Driver/Codriver Car Class Gap Bonus
1 France Sébastien Loeb
France Isabelle Galmiche
Ford Puma Rally1 RC1   2
2 France Sébastien Ogier
France Benjamin Veillas
Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 RC1 10.500 1
3 Ireland Craig Breen
Ireland Paul Nagle
Ford Puma Rally1 RC1 1'39.800  
4 Finland Kalle Rovanperä
Finland Jonne Halttunen
Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 RC1 2'16.200 5
5 United Kingdom Gus Greensmith
Sweden Jonas Andersson
Ford Puma Rally1 RC1 6'33.400  
6 Belgium Thierry Neuville
Belgium Martijn Wydaeghe
Hyundai i20 N Rally1 RC1 7'42.600 3
7 Norway Andreas Mikkelsen
Norway Torstein Eriksen
Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo RC2 11'33.800  
8 Japan Takamoto Katsuta
Aaron Johnston
Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 RC1 12'24.700  
9 Erik Cais
Petr Těšínský
Ford Fiesta Rally2 RC2 12'29.200  
10 Russian Federation Nikolay Gryazin
Konstantin Aleksandrov
Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo RC2 13'41.300  
11 United States Sean Johnston
Alexander Kihurani
Citroën C3 Rally2 RC2 14'42.500  
12 Grégoire Munster
Louis Louka
Hyundai i20 N Rally2 RC2 14'48.000  
13 France Yohan Rossel
France Benjamin Boulloud
Citroën C3 Rally2 RC2 15'02.100  
14 Chris Ingram
Ross Whittock
Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo RC2 15'20.400  
15 France Raphaël Astier
France Frederic Vauclare
Alpine A110 Rally RGT RGT 18'54.000  
16 Matteo Gamba
Nicolò Gonella
Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo RC2 19'57.000  
17 Mauro Miele
Luca Beltrame
Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo RC2 20'32.500  
18 France Emmanuel Guigou
Kévin Bronner
Alpine A110 Rally RGT RGT 21'01.900  
19 Italy Alessandro Gino
Daniele Michi
Hyundai i20 R5 RC2 22'40.700  
20 Olivier Burri
Anderson Levratti
Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 RC2 22'53.000  
21 United Kingdom Elfyn Evans
United Kingdom Scott Martin
Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 RC1 23'10.500 4
22 Sami Pajari
Enni Mälkönen
Ford Fiesta Rally3 RC3 24'06.400  
23 Czech Republic Jan Černý
Petr Černohorský
Ford Fiesta Rally3 RC3 24'14.000  
24 Freddy Loix
Pieter Tsjoen
Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo RC2 24'32.300  
25 François Delecour
Jean-Rodolphe Guigonnet
Alpine A110 Rally RGT RGT 24'55.400  
26 Johannes Keferbock
Ilka Minor
Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo RC2 25'28.000  
27 Anthony Fotia
Arnaud Dunand
Renault Clio Rally4 RC4 28'06.300  
28 Germany Marijan Griebel
Alexander Rath
Opel Corsa Rally4 RC4 29'01.500  
29 Frédérik Casciani
Vincent Delaplanche
Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo RC2 29'09.800  
30 France Jean-Michel Raoux
France Laurent Magat
Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 RC2 30'08.900  
31 Ireland Eamonn Boland
Ireland Michael Joseph Morrissey
Ford Fiesta Rally2 RC2 31'26.800  
32 Roberto Daprà
Luca Guglielmetti
Ford Fiesta Rally4 RC4 33'34.400  
33 France Philippe Baffoun
Charlyne Quartini
Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 RC2 35'21.900  
34 Switzerland Sacha Althaus
Switzerland Lisiane Zbinden
Renault Clio Rally4 RC4 37'38.100  
35 Luc Pistachi
Laëtitia Authier
Škoda Fabia R5 RC2 37'41.500  
36 France Christophe Casanova
Dominique Corvi
Alpine A110 Rally RGT RGT 38'12.500  
37 Fabrizio Arengi
Massimiliano Bosi
Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo RC2 39'59.500  
38 Frédéric Rosati
Philippe Marchetto
Hyundai i20 N Rally2 RC2 40'34.600  
39 Styve Juif
Maxime Biegalke
Renault Clio Rally4 RC4 43'10.800  
40 Italy Enrico Brazzoli
Italy Manuel Fenoli
Ford Fiesta Rally3 RC3 43'22.400  
41 Ghjuvanni Rossi
Maxime Martini
Renault Clio Rally5 RC5 44'23.900  
42 Esteban Vallín
Borja Odriozola
Renault Clio Rally5 RC5 45'42.200  
43 Pierre Tanci
Sébastien Malet
Renault Clio Rally4 RC4 48'27.000  
44 Eric Royere
France Gilbert Dini
Renault Clio Rally5 RC5 48'59.900  
45 Martin Rada
Jaroslav Jugas
Abarth 124 Rally RGT RGT 53'22.900  
46 Jérôme Aymard
Sandrine Aymard
Renault Clio RS R3T RC4 53'40.300  
47 Roberto Gobbin
Fabio Grimaldi
Abarth 124 Rally RGT RGT 54'19.700  
48 Jean-Marc Guillon
Guillaume Ferrari
Peugeot 208 R2 RC4 55'07.900  
49 Gilles Michellier
Christophe Richard
Renault Clio Rally5 RC5 1:05'01.900  
50 Lilian Vialle
Manuel Ghirardello
Renault Clio Rally5 RC5 1:05'30.900  
51 Nicolas d'Ulivo
Angélique Paolini
Ford Fiesta R2T National RC4 1:08'39.300  
52 Elwis Chentre
Massimiliano Bay
Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo RC2 1:09'29.600  
53 Jauffrey Magnan-Bayle
Kévin Marchetti
Renault Clio Rally5 RC5 1:09'36.700  
54 France Pierre Ragues
Julien Pesenti
Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 RC2 1:10'16.400  
55 Jean-Paul Palmero
Mattia Pastorino
Peugeot 208 R2 RC4 1:11'36.100  
56 Carlo Covi
Michela Lorigiola
Škoda Fabia R5 RC2 1:14'19.400  
57 Ian Crerar
Elise Racette
Alpine A110 Rally RGT RGT 1:22'43.900  
58 Marc Dessi
Pamela Dessi
Peugeot 208 R2 RC4 1:25'52.000  
59 Pierre Pergola
Fabrice Corona
Škoda Fabia R5 RC2 1:27'07.100  
60 Jason Bailey
Shayne Peterson
Peugeot 208 Rally4 RC4 1:35'57.100  
61 Lionel Goujon
Christophe Laperriere
Peugeot 208 R2 RC4 1:39'25.200  
62 Jean-Luc Morel
Mireille Toti
Citroën DS3 R1 RC5 1:56'34.400  
  Sweden Oliver Solberg
United Kingdom Elliott Edmondson
Hyundai i20 N Rally1 RC1    
  Yanis Desangles
Nicolas Theron
Škoda Fabia R5 RC2    
  Bolivia Marco Bulacia
Argentina Marcelo Der Ohannesian
Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo RC2    
  Alberto Sassi
Gabriele Romei
Abarth 124 Rally RGT RGT    
  Zoltán László
Tamás Begala
Ford Fiesta Rally3 RC3    
  Tony Giallo
Denis Giallo
Citroën DS3 R1 RC5    
  Estonia Ott Tanak
Estonia Martin Jarveoja
Hyundai i20 N Rally1 RC1    
  France Stéphane Lefebvre
Andy Malfoy
Citroën C3 Rally2 RC2    
  France Christophe Berard
France Christophe Bernabo
Renault Clio RS R3T RC4    
  Timothy Van
Kurt Heyndrickx
Renault Clio Rally4 RC4    
  France Eric Camilli
Yannick Roche
Citroën C3 Rally2 RC2    
  France Adrien Fourmaux
Alexandre Coria
Ford Puma Rally1 RC1    
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