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WRC: Ogier sets the bar at Monte Carlo rally

2016-01-25 08:45

ANOTHER WIN: French driver Sebastien Ogier (R) and co-driver Julien Ingrassia (L) celebrate their victory during the podium ceremony for the 84th Monte-Carlo Rallye, on January 24, 2016 in Monaco. Image: Jean Christophe Magnenet


Volkswagen WRC driver Jari-Matti Latvala struck a photographer at the Monte Carlo Rally eat Stage 11. Latvala lost control of his modified Polo after running wide.

France - Three-times world champion Sebastien Ogier won the season-opening Monte Carlo rally in style on Sunday, taking two of the three stages to clinch a third straight win at his favourite race.

The Frenchman led overnight from Andreas Mikkelsen of Norway, and finished nearly two minutes ahead of his Volkswagen teammate for his 33rd career victory.

Ogier said: "This rally is the most important of the season for me. So emotional to be able to do it here in Monte Carlo."

Opening win of 2016

Just like on Saturday, Ogier won the day's opening stage - beating Hyundai drivers Dani Sordo of Spain and Belgian Thierry Neuville, who finished the race in third place overall.

Mikkelsen won the next stage, with Sordo again second, but clawed back only 13.6 seconds on Ogier, who was down in seventh spot.

WATCH: Rally driver crashes, hits photographer

Ogier won the final power stage ahead of Sordo and Mikkelsen, collecting three bonus points to go with his win.

The power stage was a testing 12km from Col de l'Orme to St. Laurent in the French Alps.

It started with a climb up Col de L'Orme - a mountain pass that features on the Tour de France cycling race - on old and bumpy tarmac, followed by a fast downhill finish featuring several hairpin bends to test drivers' nerves.

Ogier completed it in a little over eight minutes to cap a fine race.

Ogier said: "I'm very happy. I have to thank my team and especially my gravel crew; they've done a great job. The car was perfect, I'm so happy to take this win for Volkswagen."

One-race ban

Meanwhile, Jari-Matti Latvala, who abandoned overnight because of front suspension damage to his Volkswagen, was given a suspended one-race ban and fined $5400 after hitting a spectator on Saturday.

The spectator got straight back up after being clipped by the front of Latvala's car, but the Finnish driver was punished by race stewards — who viewed on-board images of the incident — for not stopping to check as he carried on driving.

The suspended ban is in force for the rest of the season.

Latvala said: "My visibility was hampered briefly by thick steam from the engine and mud that had sprayed up from the ditch. I saw a spectator jump to the side and drove slowly back to the road.

"The team contacted me after the stage and informed me that I had touched a spectator. As I said, I am very sorry about the whole incident."

The next rally is in Sweden in three weeks' time.

Monte Carlo Rally standings after Monte Carlo 16th and final stage:
1 Sebastien Ogier-Julien Ingrassia (FRA/VW Polo-R) 3h49min 53.1sec
2 Andreas Mikkelsen-Anders Jaeger Synnevag (NOR/VW Polo-R) at 1m54.5sec
3 Thierry Neuville-Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL/Hyundai i20) 3min17.9 
4 Mads Ostberg-Ola Floene (NOR/Ford Fiesta RS) 4min47.7 
5 Stphane Lefebvre-Gabin Moreau (FRA/Citron DS3) 7min35.6
6 Dani Sordo-Marc Marti (ESP/Hyundai i20) 10min35.5 
7 Ott Tnak-Raigo Molder (EST/Ford Fiesta RS) 11min39.9

Special stage winners
Ogier 8 (SS1, SS3, SS5, SS6, SS8, SS9, SS14, SS16) 
Meeke 4 (SS2, SS4, SS7, SS11)
Mikkelsen 2 (SS10, SS15) 
Neuville 2 (SS12, SS13)

Championship standings
1 Sebastien Ogier (FRA)
2 Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR)
3 Thierry Neuville (BEL)
4 Mads Ostberg-Ola Floene (NOR/Ford Fiesta RS)
5 Stphane Lefebvre-Gabin Moreau (FRA/Citron DS3)
6 Dani Sordo-Marc Marti (ESP/Hyundai i20)
7 Ott Tnak-Raigo Molder (EST/Ford Fiesta RS)

1 Volkswagen 25
2 Hyundai 25 
3 M-Sport (Ford) 20 
4 VW 2 18

Read more on:    wrc  |  monte carlo  |  off-road  |  rally

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