WRC Monte Carlo Rally: Sebastien Loeb leads opening night

Sebastien Loeb leads the Monte Carlo Rally from Sebastien Ogier after the first evening of his World Rally Championship comeback

WRC Monte Carlo Rally: Sebastien Loeb leads opening night

Citroen star Loeb stormed through the Entrevaux-Rouaine stage that opened the 2015 WRC season a full 22 seconds clear of surprise second-placed man Ott Tanak's M-Sport Ford and half a minute faster than Ogier's Volkswagen in third position.

Ogier responded by going quickest on the Norante to Dignes-les-Bains stage that completed the after-dark double-header.

If Loeb's 14th position in the starting order had helped him on SS1, where everyone complained of extremely unpredictable ice levels, it was a hindrance on SS2, as most drivers further down the order found increasing amounts of gravel dragged onto the corners by cars ahead.

Loeb was still third fastest, but he dropped 17.6s to Ogier, bringing his outright lead down to 13.3s at the end of the night.

OPINION: Why Loeb can win the Monte

The other VW drivers had struggled badly for confidence on SS1 - where Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen were only eighth and 13th quickest - before regaining ground with second and fifth places on SS2.

That brought Latvala up to third overall, just ahead of Tanak, with Mikkelsen now seventh.

Tanak's team-mate Elfyn Evans was a superb fourth quickest on SS2, putting him fifth overall in front of fellow Brit Kris Meeke.

Thierry Neuville completed the opening day of a Monte Carlo Rally - an event where he has crashed early on every previous attempt - for the first time in eighth place, while Mads Ostberg fell back from an initial fifth to ninth with a poor SS2 time.

There were early disappointments for the two heroes of the 2014 Monte: Bryan Bouffier and Robert Kubica.

A year after their shock appearances in the rally lead, Bouffier crashed when running seventh on SS2 and Kubica's promising early splits on SS1 were followed by two minor errors and then a major electrical problem on the next stage.

The RK Ford lost nearly five minutes and tumbled down the order, then had to stop on the road section heading back to service.

Dani Sordo also had early drama, outbraking himself and going off the road within the first few miles of SS1.

His co-driver Marc Marti had to push the Hyundai back onto the road, and though they rebounded with sixth place on SS2, the pair are back in 12th overall behind Henning Solberg and Martin Prokop.

Follow Friday's Monte Carlo Rally action as it happens with AUTOSPORT Race Centre Live from 8.45am UK time

LEADING POSITIONS AFTER SS2:

-


shares
comments
Sebastien Ogier: Revised WRC rules throw 2015 battle open

Previous article

Sebastien Ogier: Revised WRC rules throw 2015 battle open

Next article

Loeb's back - and he can win the Monte

Loeb's back - and he can win the Monte
Load comments
How Finland’s newest rally hero made WRC history in Estonia Plus

How Finland’s newest rally hero made WRC history in Estonia

Kalle Rovanpera broke a decade-old record in becoming the World Rally Championship's youngest-ever winner in a truly dominant performance on Estonia's fast gravel roads. Staving off the challenge of Hyundai's Craig Breen, his committed drive showed a maturity beyond his 20 years that gives Toyota's post-Ogier era a far brighter complexion

WRC
Jul 19, 2021
How WRC's new Safari adventure ended with a familiar tale Plus

How WRC's new Safari adventure ended with a familiar tale

The World Rally Championship’s delayed return to the Safari Rally was always set throw up some surprises, but aside from a spirited showing by Thierry Neuville it became another painful event for Hyundai in 2021. Once again it was Sebastien Ogier who took full advantage as he completed a stunning comeback drive

WRC
Jun 28, 2021
Remembering Colin McRae’s final WRC win Plus

Remembering Colin McRae’s final WRC win

The Safari Rally returns to the World Rally Championship this weekend for the first time since 2002 - when crowd favourite Colin McRae set aside the maximum attack style for which he was renowned to deliver a textbook third win

WRC
Jun 23, 2021
How Hyundai's broken record gave Toyota a special Sardinia 1-2 Plus

How Hyundai's broken record gave Toyota a special Sardinia 1-2

For the second WRC gravel rally in a row, a promising Friday for Hyundai turned into desolation as Toyota gratefully picked up the pieces. This time it was championship leader Sebastien Ogier who took full advantage after Ott Tanak and Dani Sordo retired to score a memorable victory, having swept the road on the first two days

WRC
Jun 7, 2021
How Hyundai's latest self-destruction handed Evans Portugal victory Plus

How Hyundai's latest self-destruction handed Evans Portugal victory

At one point Hyundai held the top three positions in Portugal, but when trouble struck the Korean marque's two leading chargers, a grateful Elfyn Evans was on hand to see off Hyundai third man Dani Sordo and become the third different winner in four rallies

WRC
May 24, 2021
Why the success of AVB's WRC debut won't be defined on the stages Plus

Why the success of AVB's WRC debut won't be defined on the stages

Three years after a Dakar Rally crash resulted in him being airlifted to hospital, Andre Villas-Boas is preparing to make his debut on his home round of the World Rally Championship later this month. His goals for the event are modest, but the same cannot be said for the charities he plans to promote where his true impact could be felt

WRC
May 13, 2021
Why there's no easy fix for Hyundai's operational Achilles Heel Plus

Why there's no easy fix for Hyundai's operational Achilles Heel

Hyundai Motorsport boss Andrea Adamo was vocal in his criticism of his team's tyre choices on Rally Croatia and declared that he "had better move my ass and solve it". Doing so will be vital to getting Hyundai's 2021 WRC title hopes back on track, but finding the root of the problem won't be the work of a moment

WRC
Apr 28, 2021
How Ogier held on after a shock bump in the road to triumph in Croatia Plus

How Ogier held on after a shock bump in the road to triumph in Croatia

Sebastien Ogier was already in an incredibly tight fight at Rally Croatia before a surprise collision with public road traffic at the start of the final day. But the defending champion held his nerve to take a narrow victory and create further World Rally Championship history

WRC
Apr 26, 2021