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WRC Monte Carlo Rally: Sebastien Ogier tops first shakedown of 2017

Four-time World Rally champion Sebastien Ogier made the perfect start to his first season as an M-Sport driver with fastest time on Wednesday's Monte Carlo Rally shakedown stage

Driving a Ford Fiesta WRC in anger for the first time, Ogier completed the two-mile test an astonishing four seconds faster than anybody.

"This is a good start, but we cannot make any conclusions from this shakedown [and] its very evolving conditions," he said.

"There's some [drivers] saving tyres for the rally as well as some different tyre choices.

"I feel not complete ready, with only two days testing, but I am ready to make the best.

"The rally is going to be difficult, it's very slippery with a lot of tricky conditions. A lot can happen. But the tyre choice looks predictable, now we have stay on the road."

The Frenchman's former Volkswagen team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen's caused a similar stir by recording the second-fastest time - the Norwegian driving a Skoda Fabia R5 on the season-opener - and admitted he was as surprised as anybody by that time.

"It's a special shakedown with everybody looking at tyres and figuring out new cars," he said.

"We had a good run, we were early on the road and this help us - but it's still a surprise to be second. I didn't believe this was possible."

Ott Tanak was third in the second M-Sport Fiesta, with Jari-Matti Latvala a second behind him in his Toyota, albeit 7.1s slower than Ogier.

The drivers all talked about not wanting to take risks on the eve of a new dawn for the World Rally Championship - and the shakedown stage just outside of Gap became increasingly tricky with more and more snow being pulled off the verge and into the road.

Most of the crews ran the most suited, heavily treaded winter tyre - except for the Citroen drivers who set all their times on a soft-compound dry weather tyre.

The tyres used at shakedown form part of the crew's allocation for the event itself.

Citroen insiders were quick to point to the fact that, while the winter cover worked at shakedown, it's unlikely to suit the conditions during the event itself - but anybody who used it will have to include it in their package, precluding the use of potentially more suitable rubber.

M-Sport's head of rally development Chris Williams predicted this wide variation of times at shakedown.

He said: "People will be out on different tyres and they'll be running with different set-ups.

"I don't think we'll see anything conclusive until the first stage."

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