Another success for the sacred duo Ogier-Ingrassia! On board a Ford Fiesta, the insatiable driver has won the 85th Rally Monte-Carlo.
Sebastien Ogier could have watched the 85th Rally Monte-Carlo wallowing from his sofa. He said this in all seriousness on Wednesday, in Gap. Two months ago, when the Volkswagen armada, hit hard by the “Dieselgate”, decided to push his Polo into a ditch, the idea of taking a year off crossed his mind. That option was rejected after some careful reflection. He took a chance and he took the title. And now he became a five-time winner of the Monte-Carlo Rally.
“Our potential has been confirmed”
“Five victories with three different brands, at 33 years old, the statistic is starting to become a mouthful,” said the new top driver of the M-Sport team, who was welcomed with some consideration due to his rank in Monaco. “Before starting the trajectory, the Monte-Carlo was the race I dreamed about: difficult to imagine now that the dream has become a reality.”
At the dawn of 2017, which was marked by many changes, he did not think he’d be having a ‘fiesta’ so soon. “New car, new company, new team: the challenge was going to be tough,” said the no.1 driver of the Ford Fiesta. “Especially since we did very little testing. Just a day and a half. We had done less test-driving than before my first victory here (in 2009, outside the world championship, at the wheel of a Peugeot 207 Super 2000). Fortunately, at the beginning of the race, the potential, I glimpsed during my brief test-runs, was confirmed. We quickly saw that the podium was within reach.” It was when Ogier came within a minute of Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville that the Belgian driver made a mistake on SS13, damaging his suspension and giving the lead to Ogier. Then, during the second Sunday pass (ES 17), Ogier had to pass Turini in difficult conditions. “This is where we appreciate having a good margin of advance. Between the summit and Peira Cava, the fine dusting of freshly fallen snow had made the task difficult for us.”
Ford at the top, five years later
If Ott Tanak, his Estonian team-mate, did not manage to double his expected results, due to a weak engine (3rd behind Jari Matti Latvala’s surprising Toyota Yaris), the man from the Alps, as if by magic, closed a long parenthesis. To find the trail that lead to the last Ford and M-Sport team triumph in The Worlds, one must go back five years ago, to the Rally of Great Britain 2012, which was won by Latvala. “I am very happy to have been able to actualize the hard work of the team,” he said, “In such a short time, I have not revolutionized anything, but with Julien (Ingrassia, co-driver), we just adapted.”
“Although it isn’t perfect, the car designed with smaller goals in mind than the other cars, has won its first race. It’s a good sign.” What do you want to accomplish in Sweden in three weeks time? “We will see, because it is very different terrain,” said Ogier who already envisioned that his two main rivals will be Neuville and Meeke, in the ranking of the championship. “In this first race, the pressure was in the mechanics’ camp. Now, no doubtedly, they feel it even more. So beware of their reaction. We’ll keep our feet on the ground… but if the opportunity to win the next one comes, count on us to seize it.” He could surely get used to having another ‘fiesta’.
The number 2
Sebastien Ogier is only the second driver to have four victories in a row in the Principality. Until yesterday, only Tommi Mäkinen, the current boss of the Toyota WRC team, won 4 in a row (1999, 2000 and 2001 with Mitsubishi, 2002 with Subaru). Sebastien Loeb (7 victories) won three consecutive successes in 2003, 2004 and 2005, just like Watter Röhr (4 triumphs in total with 4 different brands!) In 1982, 1983 and 1984.