MONACO (AFP) – Two-time world champion Sebastien Ogier won the Monte Carlo Rally on Sunday, the Volkswagen driver holding off his Finnish team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala for the Frenchman’s third success in the iconic opening leg of the world rally championship.
It was an all-Volkswagen podium for the 83rd edition with Andreas Mikkelson claiming third.
The last time the first three places fell to the same constructor was in 2003 when Sebastien Loeb took third in a Citroen 1-2-3.
“This event had the best atmosphere I have experienced on a rally. When I drove the stage close to my home village, the atmosphere was magical,” said Ogier who was born near the host town of Gap.
Loeb, a seven-time Monte Carlo winner, posted the fastest time in one of Sunday’s closing three stages, the other two going to his Northern Irish team-mate Kris Meeke.
Loeb, the nine-time world champion who lost time after a crash on Friday when Ogier took the lead, came in eighth overall after topping the timesheets in five specials.
Ogier’s previous wins in the Principality came in 2009 at the wheel of a Peugeot when the rally was part of the International Rally Challenge, and last year.
“Winning Monte-Carlo means a lot for every driver, but especially for me,” said the 31-year-old, who after seeing his lead cut on Saturday wrapped up the win comfortably in the end by 58sec from Latvala with Mikkelson over two minutes behind.
“It’s the most important rally of the season. The weather makes it a huge challenge but the satisfaction is great when you make it.”
The WRC season moves next to the snow-covered roads of Sweden starting on February 12, the only true winter test on the calendar.