Ogier wins WRC opener in 'impossible' conditions
FIVE-time world champion Sébastien Ogier got off to a winning start to this year's World Rally Championship.
The Frenchman won his sixth Rallye Monte-Carlo with co-driver Julien Ingrassia at the weekend.
The ice, snow and wet tarmac proved an "extreme” challenge for the leading M-Sport driver who was born virtually on the rally route in the French town of Gap.
"I don't think I've ever struggled so much with the tyre choices, so to have come out on top is fantastic,” Ogier said.
"I think everyone made mistakes this weekend - myself included - but it was almost impossible to have the perfect drive.”
Ogier span out twice - once on Thursday night and again on Friday afternoon.
The Frenchman needed spectator's help to recover after his second spin, allowing Estonian Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT driver Ott Tänak to close the gap.
But still Ogier finished 58.3 seconds ahead of Tänak in second and 1min 52sec in front of third-placed Jari-Matti Latvala.
"Sébastien and Julien really did have everything under control. We saw mistakes from almost everyone, but they made it count when it mattered,” M-Sport team principal Malcolm Wilson said.
Wilson said M-Sport got off to the perfect start to this WRC season, claiming a win in the FIA World Rally Championships for Manufacturers, Drivers and Co-drivers.
Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT's Esapekka Lappi was on course to finish fourth, earning the manufacturer a 2-3-4 result but ran a corner on the final Power Stage and plummeted to seventh.
The WRC will move to Rally Sweden for round two on February 15-18.