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.
Toro Rosso chief Franz Tost hopes to see sacked driver Daniil Kvyat return to Formula 1 in the near future, saying the Russian “deserves” a place on the grid.
Toro Rosso dropped Kvyat twice through the 2017 season due to poor form, with his final dismissal coming after the United States Grand Prix in October.
Kvyat is no longer part of Red Bull’s motorsport program and is exploring options both inside and outside of F1 for 2018, and Tost feels he could be energized by some time away before returning.
“I am still convinced that Daniil has a very high natural speed. He was sometimes even faster than Daniel Riccardo, but somehow last year and this year he couldn’t show the potential that is within him,” Tost told the official F1 website.
“He was involved in many incidents, but in his defence I also have to say that he had many reliability issues and that didn’t help build up confidence. Being the victim of too many incidents killed the performance he would have been able to show.
“Maybe a short break – to get organized again – and probably we will see Daniil back at his usual performance level with another team.
“Sometimes he was too aggressive at the beginning of the race. The first corner was his weak point. He wanted too much in the first hundred meters – success by any means!
“That puts you under pressure – unnecessary pressure – and that never works.
“I hope for him that he gets another chance, as I think he deserves to be in F1.”