Sebastien Ogier has taken the opening victory of the 2014 FIA World Rally Championship season, the legendary Monte Carlo Rally.
The win is Ogier’s 17th of his WRC career and first at Monte Carlo; he came second to Sebastien Loeb last year, in Loeb’s last season in the championship.
Ogier took seven of 15 stage wins over the three days in his Volkswagen and beat privateer M-Sport Ford entrant Bryan Bouffier by only 51 seconds. As Ogier told the official WRC website though, he had a bit of luck after recovering from a small off on Thursday’s first stage.
“We had a bit of luck this weekend, we have to admit that,” Ogier said. “Our race could have ended on the first corner. All the road section was very humid and then on the first corner of the first stage there was small slush on the road. We understeered into a wall.”
Some snowy conditions made the roads treacherous and it caught others out, including ex-Formula One driver Robert Kubica. The Pole won the first two stages of the rally but crashed out on SS9. Kubica’s competing this season in a third M-Sport Ford.
Behind the top two, the pair of factory Citroens driven by Kris Meeke and Mads Ostberg were third and fourth, with Ogier’s VW teammate Jari-Matti Latvala rounding out the top five.
The next round of the WRC is the Rally Sweden, February 5-8.
Takuma Sato isn’t the only major Japanese athlete to take home top honors at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this year. Countryman Yoshihide Muroya joined him in that on Sunday after winning Red Bull Air Race at IMS, and the Red Bull Air Race World Championship in the process.
Fittingly, the 101st Indianapolis 500 champion was there on site to join him in the celebration.
Muroya flew with a track-record run in the final and erased the four-point deficit to points leader Martin Sonka. The record run came after a disappointing qualifying effort of 11th in the 14-pilot field in the Master Class.
A day after the win, Muroya joined Sato in heading to Sato’s new Verizon IndyCar Series team, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s, Indianapolis-based shop.
A few social posts from Muroya’s victory and the subsequent celebration are below.
Muroya wasn’t alone among big winners at the Speedway. In the Challenger Class, Melanie Astles of France became the first woman to win a major race at IMS, and is the first female winner in the Red Bull Air Race World Championship.
Nine women have competed in the Indianapolis 500 (Janet Guthrie, Lyn St. James, Sarah Fisher, Danica Patrick, Milka Duno, Simona de Silvestro, Pippa Mann, Ana Beatriz, Katherine Legge) and Mann is the first woman to have been on the pole position at IMS, having done so for the Freedom 100 in 2010 in Indy Lights.