Ogier and M-Sport win Monte Carloposted in WRC22 | 01 | 2017

    WORLD RALLY CHAMP Sebastien Ogier took victory on his M-Sport debut in the Monte Carlo Rally piloting his Ford Fiesta; but team-mate Ott Tanak was denied second place after a late technical problem. Though the Estonian clung on to third, Jari-Matti Latvala  brought his all-new Toyota home in second place on its debut. (Related: Latvala claims second on Toyota debut)

    Tank, who had been as low as ninth at one stage, battled back to move into second after the dominant Thierry Neuville broke his Hyundai's suspension on Saturday afternoon.

    But frustratingly, Tanak’s M-Sport Ford developed an engine problem on the final morning, and though he somehow managed to keep it going through the final two stages — it would have been three but for SS16 being cancelled for safety reasons — he slid back to third.


    While Ogier’s win was the first for Ford in 55 world rallies, for Toyota the podium marked a fantastic return to the WRC for the first time since 1999. Its last podium came at the penultimate round in Australia in 1999 with Carlos Sainz.

    And while Dani Sordo was the highest Hyundai finisher in fourth, the high rate of attrition allowed one of the previous-generation World Rally Cars into the top five, Craig Breen's 2016 Citroen finishing within 12 seconds of the Spaniard.

    Breen’s team leader and fellow Irishman Kris Meeke endured a miserable start to his 2017 campaign in the new Citroen C3 WRC.

    He had been pushing for a podium place before he crashed on Friday, then spent half an hour parked with an ignition problem on Saturday after returning under Rally2. His Monte ended then ended bizarrely when another car crashed into him on the road section back to Monaco on Saturday night.


    But there was more good news for M-Sport and Ford when 2016 British Rally champ Elfyn Evans brought his Ford Fiesta WRC home a comfortable sixth.

    All three Fiesta WRC drivers secured stage victories this weekend – three for Ogier, one for Tänak and a further three for Elfyn Evans. The team was also the only manufacturer to secure a one-two on individual stage times – not once, not twice, but there times.

    The result was welcomed by team boss Malcolm Wilson, whose Cockermouth M-Sport team prepares the three Ford Fiesta WRC cars.

    “I can’t put into words the feeling in the team right now,” Wilson beamed. “It’s been five years since we have stood on the top step of the podium and I can tell you that it’s a feeling we want to continue.


    “Once again, we have won on our debut with a new car and I think that just goes to prove the high level of expertise we have in this company. You just have to look at the performance of all three drivers – Sébastien, Ott and Elfyn all securing stage wins.

    “We have got a great base car in the Ford Fiesta WRC. We know that we’ve still got a lot of work to do, but we’ve certainly got something good to work with.

    “Again, I cannot praise the team enough. This result is down to their hard work and dedication. Each and every one of them – here on event and back home at Dovenby Hall – should be extremely proud of what we have achieved this weekend.”

    Ogier too was understandably delighted to win on his debut with M-Sport and Ford, and helped ease the pain of his previous team Volkswagen quitting WRC at the end of 2016.


    “Obviously I feel really great,” the Frenchman smiled after winning the Monte for the fifth time. “It always feels good to win at Rallye Monte-Carlo, but this year we had one of the most difficult challenges we have ever had. We had to contend with some really demanding conditions and also had a new car and a new team; it’s really incredible.

    “We joined the team only a month ago and have only had a couple of days in the car so far. Of course we know that anything can happen at this event, but I really thought we would be lacking the necessary preparation to challenge for victory this weekend.

    “To be here now, on the top-step of the podium, I’m very happy and so happy for the whole team who really deserve this. We could never have won if they had not given us a good car, so congratulations to them.

    “We still have some work to do, but we have started in the best possible way. I’m looking forward to the next events and there is nothing that does not allow me to be confident.”

    The next round of the FIA World Rally Championship is Rally Sweden from February 9-12.

    World Rally Championship — Monte Carlo Rally (Result):

    1. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) 4:00:03.6

2. Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +2:15.0

    3. Ott Tänak / Martin Järveoja (Ford Fiesta WRC) +2:57.8

    4. Dani Sordo / Marc Marti (Hyundai 120 Coupe WRC) +3:35.8

5. Craig Breen / Scott Martin (Citroen DS3 WRC) +3:47.8

    6. Elfyn Evans / Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) +6:45.0

    7. Andreas Mikkelsen / Anders Jaeger (Škoda Fabia R5) +9:32.7

    8. Jan Kopecky / Pavel Dresler (Škoda Fabia R5) +12:58.1

    9. Stéphane Lefebvre / Gabin Moreau (Citroen C3 WRC) +14:43.8

10. Bryan Bouffier / Denis Giraudet (Ford Fiesta R5) +16:09.4

    Related: Monte set for Scots launch

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    Jim McGill


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