Winning over Toyota the 89th edition of the famous rally, which celebrated behind closed doors because of the Covid-19 the 110th anniversary of its creation, the 37-year-old French driver now exceeds his compatriot Sébastien Loeb (7), nine-time champion of world.
For his last full season in the WRC, Ogier sent a strong signal to the competition by winning eight special stages out of 14. He relegated his teammate to Toyota but nevertheless main rival Elfyn Evans at 32.6 seconds and Belgian Thierry Neuville (Hyundai ), 3rd, more than a minute away by winning the last special “Power Stage“and his additional points in the championship.
Ogier, however, should not have been there: he announced a year ago that 2020 would be his last season. But the pandemic has changed his plans, and less than two months after beating the same Evans in Monza (Italy) to claim his 7th world title, the Frenchman has propelled himself to an 8th coronation.
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– “The right decision” –
“I’m super happy, the car has been great, it has been a real pleasure. I almost have tears in my eyes, I think it was a good decision to do another year!“, he declared before the Marseillaise on the podium alongside his co-driver Julien Ingrassia.
The native of Gap, the fastest on his land, was able to stay the course for his 50th WRC victory, despite brake problems on the first day Thursday, a puncture and a spin on Friday or “the most slippery stage of (his) career” Saturday.
In the standings, the Finnish prospect of Toyota Kalle Rovanperä, 20, and the Spaniard of Hyundai Dani Sordo complete the top 5.
Among the manufacturers, Toyota is ahead of Hyundai, which lost Ott Tänak, 2019 world champion, to retirement after punctures, and M-Sport Ford, which saw Teemu Suninen spectacularly off the road on Thursday.
– In camera and express route –
In the current context, the crews could never have seen Monaco. But against all odds, or rather against pandemic and bad weather, the Monte-Carlo was maintained.
Fans were asked to watch their favorite race on TV, which normally offers scenes of jubilation along the roads, and the night events took place … before dawn, to respect the curfew in force. at 6:00 p.m. in France.
The “Monte“was also left with the shortest route in its history, 257 km, and deprived of its monument, the Col de Turini, after the storm Alex which had killed several people in October and devastated valleys.
Otherwise, the pilots were entitled to Sunday at the Col Saint-Raphaël, in the Préalpes d’Azur, messy hairpins and changing conditions between snow, ice and asphalt: everything that makes the salt of the oldest rally.
Thierry Neuville, winner last year but who has just replaced his ten-year-old co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul, gained confidence over the weekend to finish on the podium with two specials won.
The other Frenchman entered in the WRC Pierre-Louis Loubet, 23, left the road on Friday, still joined the arrival of his first “Monte-Carl’“, but far behind. Also tricolor hope, Adrien Fourmaux, 25, finished in 9th place overall and in 2nd place in WRC2, an elite antechamber.
Twelve races are on the program this year, the next being the Arctic Rally (February 26-28) in northern Finland for a 100% snow-covered event on the edge of the Arctic Circle.
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