The 89th edition of the Monte-Carlo Rally is just around the corner. With only a few days to go, we are taking a closer look at five of the best drivers to have ever raced Monaco’s legendary course. Between them, two Sébastiens (Ogier and Loeb), Tommi Mäkinen, Walter Röhrl and Carlos Sainz have claimed victory 25 times in the Principality.
Sébastien Ogier (France), 7 time Monte-Carlo Rally champion
Time and again Sébastien Ogier is compared with Sébastien Loeb; Some even go as far as to say the Gapençais rider is not actually a seven time champion of this legendary rally. Driving a Peugeot 207 S2000, Ogier came out on top the very first time he raced the course in 2009. Back then, the Monte-Carlo Rally was part of the European Rally Championship (ERC) calendar. However, today it makes up the World Rally Championship (WRC). Herein lies the controversy of his success. Nevertheless, the course itself remains unchanged. Ogier is a master of these roads. He knows them by heart and it shows. Six of his world championship victories have been consecutive, from 2014-2019. In the near future, he may even earn the accolade of having won the Monte-Carlo Rally behind the wheel of four different carmakers.
Sébastien Loeb (France), 7 time Monte-Carlo Rally champion
Until the appearance of Sébastien Ogier, his title as master rider went uncontested for years. Seven time rally champion between 2003-2013, the Alsatian-born driver has definitely made his mark in Monaco’s history. Driving the Citroen Xsara, C4 and DS3, the nine-time world rally champion has claimed almost all the victories to be had in the last 10 years. Marcus Grönholm (2006) has been his only consistent rival. He beat Loeb to victory in 2010, 2011 and 2012. The 2012 win was a close call and Loeb did not participate in the race. Sébastien Loeb will not compete in the infamous Monacan rally this year.
Tommi Mäkinen (Finland), 4 time Monte-Carlo Rally champion
Tommi Mäkinen is considered as one of the first “Flying Finns” of the modern day. Other Flying Finns (famous Finish drivers known for their incredible speed in WRC) include Ari Vatanen, Timo Mäkinen and Pauli Toivonen. Born in Puuppola, Mäkinen has claimed victory four times in Monaco, with three of these wins occurring consecutively between 1999-2002. He takes risks and tears up the track with his high speeds. As the 20th century drew to a close, this four time world rally champion (1996, 1997, 1998, 1999) ,The Flying Finn, had been the leading driver. However, in the decade that followed, Sébastien Loeb came to dominate the world rallying scene.
Walter Röhrl (Germany), 4 time Monte-Carlo Rally champion
Double world rally champion. The German is the first, and so far only, driver to have claimed the Monte-Carlo title behind the wheel of four different carmakers. He drove to victory in a different car every time! The following models saw Walter Röhrl snatch victory from his competitors: Fiat 131 Abarth, Opel Ascona 400 and the Lancia Rally 037.
To me, a win in Monaco was so much more than a world title
Carlos Sainz (Spain), three time Monte-Carlo Rally champion
The younger generation no doubt know him for his crazy off-road performance in Dakar, Africa, South America and now Saudi Arabia. Before reigning three times supreme in rally raid (2010, 2018, 2020), a form of cross country rallying, he had great success on the legendary course in Monte-Carlo.
The father to Formula 1 driver Carlos Sainz Jr (Ferrari) is a two time world rally champion (1990, 1992). The Spaniard has dominated the course in Monaco three times (1991, 1995, 1998). Two wins were with Toyato while driving the Celica GT-4 ST165 and the Corolla WRC. The third with Subaru, driving the Impreza 555. Last year, WRC crowned him the greatest rally driver of all time. Sébastien Loeb came just behind in second place. It is clear to see why Carlos Sainz deserves a place in this ranking.
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