Nine-time World Rally Champion Sebastian Loeb triumphed at the opening round of the 2022 WRC Championship in Monte Carlo.
With the championship finally incorporating hybrid technology into its cars, the series moved into a new era after bidding adieu to the World Rally Car regulations. Despite the new dawn, it was a familiar face who triumphed with Loeb pipping his fellow Frenchman Sebastian Ogier to the win.
Slow start, strong finish
Driving a Ford Puma, Loeb endured a slow start to his rally, losing the opening four stages to reigning champion Ogier. The Toyota Yaris driver looked unstoppable for large parts of the rally, and looked deadset to claim an unprecendented ninth win at the Monte Carlo Rally, after crushing Loeb by 16.1 seconds during the final stage on Saturday.
Ogier was easing his way to the win on Sunday, until a puncture on Stage 16 changed the outcome of the rally. Loeb would proceed to take full advantage of Ogier’s misfortune, bringing his car home to claim his 80th win in the WRC.
The win also marked the first time Loeb won with his co-driver Isabelle Galmiche, who became the first female to win a WRC event since Fabrizia Pons at the Rally Monte Carlo in 1997.
“I didn’t expect so much when I came here,” Loeb stated. “It was a great fight, Ogier was really fast and I struggled a bit yesterday and even this morning.”
WRC Monte-Carlo Rally Results – Top 10
|POS||DRIVER||CO-DRIVER||TEAM / CAR||TIME|
|1||S. LOEB||I. GALMICHE||Ford Puma Rally1||3:00:32.8|
|2||S. OGIER||B. VEILLAS||Toyota GR Yaris Rally1||+10.5|
|3||C. BREEN||P. NAGLE||Ford Puma Rally1||+1:39.8|
|4||K. ROVANPERA||J. HALTTUNEN||Toyota GR Yaris Rally1||+2:16.2|
|5||G. GREENSMITH||J. ANDERSSON||Ford Puma Rally1||+6:33.4|
|6||T. NEUVILLE||M. WYDAEGHE||Hyundai i20 N Rally1||+7:42.6|
|7||A. MIKKELSEN||T. ERIKSEN||Skoda Fabia Evo||+11:33.8|
|8||T. KATSUTA||A. JOHNSTON||Toyota GR Yaris Rally1||+12:24.7|
|9||E. CAIS||P. TESINSKY||Ford Fiesta MkII||+12:29.2|
|10||N. GRYAZIN||K. ALEKSANDROV||Skoda Fabia Evo||+13:41.3|