Sebastien Ogier holds on to take Citroen's 100th WRC victory with Monte Carlo win
Sebastien Ogier held off Thierry Neuville to take victory at the Rally Monte Carlo by 2.2 seconds on his first event back with the Citroen squad.
Neuville closed up the gap to Ogier over the Sunday morning stages but could not do enough to prevent Ogier taking Citroen’s 100th World Rally Championship win.
Ogier reported throttle issues in the closing stages of the weekend but managed to extend the gap back to Neuville from a mere 0.4s going into the powerstage.
Ott Tanak completed the podium despite losing nearly two minutes on Friday morning changing a puncture which dropped him down to eighth.
The Estonian then went on to take six consecutive stage wins across Saturday and Sunday in his battle back to a podium position.
Returning nine-time champion Sebastien Loeb finished fourth in his first weekend with Hyundai and was engaged in a rally long battle with Jari-Matti Latvala for position.
Fifth-placed Latvala struggled with the suspension settings on his Yaris and complained that the car was too stiff for his driving style.
Latvala’s Toyota team-mate Kris Meeke finished in sixth, after running as high as second in Thursday evening’s opening stages, and rounded out the weekend by topping the Power Stage.
A puncture on Friday afternoon lost the Northern Irishman four minutes and a multitude of broken wheel rims hindered his first outing with the Toyota team.
WRC2 Pro winner Gus Greensmith took seventh, ahead of WRC2 victor Yoann Bonato, Stephane Sarrazin and Adrien Fourmaux, who rounded out the top 10.
Highest-placed M-Sport driver Teemu Suninen finished the rally in 11th after hitting a barrier in the event’s opening stage.
Monte Carlo claimed its fair share of victims in 2019 with both Andreas Mikkelsen and Esapekka Lappi forced to retire in Saturday’s opening stage.
Mikkelsen’s wheel was ripped off after hitting a wall crossing the finish line of SS9, while Lappi encountered a technical problem that left him unable to continue in the event.
Elfyn Evans’ rally also ended early after dropping off a steep bank and clipping a tree.
Final Positions (Top 8):
1. S. Ogier (Citroen) 3:21:15.9s
2. T. Neuville (Hyundai) +2.2s
3. O. Tanak (Toyota) +2:15.2s
4. S. Loeb (Hyundai) +2:28.2s
5. J. Latvala (Toyota) +2:29.9s
6. K. Meeke (Toyota) +5:36.2s
7. G. Greensmith (M-Sport/WRC2) +13:04.6s
8. Y. Bonato (Yoann Bonato/WRC2) +13.56.5s