Sébastien Ogier won the Rallye Monte Carlo on his M-Sport debut. The Frenchman had already dropped from the top on Friday but a strong rest of the weekend brought him back. Thierry Neuville crashed his Hyundai from first place that gave Ogier a chance to win.
Neuville suffers gravely from a late mistake on Saturday
Hyundai Motorsport’s Thierry Neuville had been dominating the rally with steady driving. On Saturday afternoon however this changed. The Belgian, who had had a 51-second lead over second placed Ogier, damaged severely his rear suspension after cutting a corner on SS13. Neuville lost a total of 32 minutes with the damaged suspension, which would automatically mean he was out of the top battle.
This sudden elevation to the top spot spurred M-Sport’s Sébastien Ogier onwards on Saturday. He entered Sunday with a 47-second lead over his Estonian teammate Ott Tänak. Toyota’s Jari-Matti Latvala was third providing some hope to the Japanese team after Juho Hänninen had crashed from third place on Friday.
M-Sport loses one-two due to Tänak’s engine problem
It was a morning of mixed feelings for M-Sport on Sunday. They had a one-two lead but this dream finish became endangered as Tänak’s car developed an engine problem. Tänak had already lost his second place to Latvala before the last two stages. The Estonian was going to lose his podium, but a miracle happened. Stage 16 was cancelled due to safety reasons with too many spectators in dangerous places. An especially eery sight for the organizers after the fatal accident on Thursday. Tänak pushed his all on the last stage and was able to keep Hyundai’s Dani Sordo behind.
Jari-Matti Latvala brought his Toyota Yaris over the finish line with an unbelievable second place 2 minutes and 15 seconds behind the rally winner Ogier. Although this didn’t meet the target set by team boss Tommi Mäkinen, the team was rejoiced. Toyota’s new rally car seems to be a future rally winner. Before Latvala’s heroic podium drive on the weekend, his teammate Juho Hänninen was on third place with great pace.
Top five of the 2017 Rallye Monte Carlo
- Sébastien Ogier, M-Sport World Rally Team, 4h 00m 03,6s
- Jari-Matti Latvala, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC, +2m 15,0s
- Ott Tänak, M-Sport World Rally Team, +2m 57,8s
- Dani Sordo, Hyundai Motorsport, +3m 35,8s
- Craig Breen, Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT, +3m 47,8s