The 90th Monte-Carlo Rally concluded on Sunday with a victory for Sébastien Loeb (Ford Puma), his eighth in the Principality. Let’s take a look at the highlights of the legendary Monegasque race.
Loeb & Ogier in a dramatic duel
They showed that they are still the two greatest drivers in the discipline, proving that they can never be counted out despite their advancing years. And in the war of the Sébastiens, it was the elder of the two, Loeb, who ended up winning, after a terrific tussle with Ogier.
Sébastien Ogier set the first two fastest times in Thursday’s two night stages, then saw Sébastien Loeb take command of the rally with four consecutive fastest times on the ES3, ES4, ES5 and ES6 special stages.
The reigning world champion, who has signed up for a few rallies this year, regained the lead at the end of a faultless day’s racing on Saturday, but Sébastien Loeb took back control on Sunday, following an unfortunate puncture for Sébastien Ogier in the penultimate special stage.
This 80th win in the WRC, but above all his 8th in Monte-Carlo, means the nine-time world rally champion now draws even with Ogier at the top of the Monte-Carlo rally honour roll. Will the pair be back next year to try to win a 9th title in the Principality? The fans can certainly dream.
Sébastien Loeb (Ford Puma): “It’s an incredible feeling, it’s been so long. I was hoping to keep up with the pace, but to win… It’s unexpected! Seb helped us a bit with his puncture, he was really very strong, but it was a good fight. We had fun, the car was great. To come away with a victory is just incredible.”
Sébastien Ogier (Toyota Yaris): “It’s a shame that it played out like that, but that’s the game, that’s motorsport. We can hold our heads up high. We had done most of the work and unfortunately, we were unlucky with the puncture.”
An incredible roadside atmosphere
Fireworks, smoke bombs, cheers, smiles, crowds… Rally enthusiasts lit up the hinterland during the first two stages of the 90th Monte-Carlo Rally, which were run at night.
The spectators came out in large numbers and were obviously thrilled by the performances of the two Sébastiens, Loeb and Ogier. And the incredible atmosphere at the roadside lasted throughout the weekend.
The faithful were out in force in the early hours of Friday morning for the second day of the race, especially around Valberg. Spectators from all over. One thing is certain, the appeal of the legendary Monegasque rally is still strong.
A successful homecoming
Back in the Monegasque hinterland after several editions around Gap (since 2014, most of the Monte-Carlo rally’s special stages have been run in the Hautes-Alpes), there was no lack of excitement as the race took to the steep roads of the Alpes-Maritimes and Alpes-de-Haute-Provence.
In addition to the legendary and familiar Col du Turini, the pilots had to negotiate the formidable Col de Fontbelle, as well as the Col du Buis. 95% of the course was modified compared to the last edition and it did not disappoint. Far from it.