ICE, SNOW, HEAVY RAIN AND SUNSHINE – THE 2018 RALLYE MONTE-CARLO THREW EVERYTHING AT THE DRIVERS, BUT MONTE MASTER SÉBASTIEN OGIER KEPT HIS NERVE TO RECORD A FIFTH CONSECUTIVE WIN AT THE SEASON-OPENER. HERE’S HOW HE DID IT:
Leg 1: Thursday
Ogier recovered from a spin in the opening Thoard – Sisteron stage to secure a handy 17.3sec lead as black ice and snow shook up the leaderboard during a crazy opening.
He won both speed tests in his Ford Fiesta to head the Hyundai i20s of Andreas Mikkelsen and Dani Sordo, but there was chaos behind in the tough conditions.
Kris Meeke and Thierry Neuville spun and got stuck while Elfyn Evans changed a puncture. Meeke dropped over two minutes but Evans and Neuville were already more than four minutes back.
Esapekka Lappi held fourth in a Toyota Yaris with team-mates Ott Tänak and Jari Matti Latvala completing the top six. Tänak spun and Latvala slid off the road twice.
Leg 2: Friday
Ogier escaped an uncharacteristic second error to retain the lead. He spun into a ditch in the penultimate test and watched his lead of almost 40sec dwindle as fans manhandled him back onto the rain-soaked mountain roads.
He headed Ott Tänak by 14.9sec. The Estonian climbed from fifth but lacked the confidence to push hard on his Yaris debut.
Mikkelsen retired with a broken alternator, allowing Sordo into second, but a mix-up in tyre selection and a misted windscreen delayed the Spaniard and he ended 59.7sec behind Tänak. Lappi, Latvala and a recovering Meeke filled the top six.
Leg 3: Saturday
Ogier more than doubled his advantage after a see-saw scrap with Tänak. He stretched his lead to 1min 18sec after a snowy opener, but the Estonian fought back with two stage wins to cut the deficit to 33.5sec as cars journeyed south to Monaco.
Latvala climbed to third when Sordo crashed, while team-mate Lappi dropped behind Meeke after a mistake precipitated a puncture. Lappi spent the remainder of the day playing catch-up and his determination paid off as he reclaimed fourth in the final stage.
Leg 4: Sunday
Tänak had no answer to Ogier on Sunday morning and settled for second as the Frenchman eased to a 53.7sec victory. Latvala made it a podium double for Toyota Gazoo.
Meeke snatched fourth when Lappi made a costly mistake, which also allowed Neuville through into fifth and Evans into sixth after their opening night dramas.