World Rally Championship: Sebastien Ogier protects lead to claim win in Monte Carlo
Last Updated: 19/01/14 11:04am
Sebastien Ogier: Won the opening rally of the season in tricky conditions
World champion Sebastien Ogier protected his overnight lead to win the season-opening Monte Carlo Rally in treacherous conditions on Saturday.
Ogier, who won three of the five stages on Friday to climb from fourth to lead the race, extended it through a day in which conditions became progressively worse with snow and then heavy rain and fog.
"It's been a tough weekend, we had so much fog at the beginning of the (last stage)," Ogier said. "It's a perfect result."
Ogier finished 78 seconds ahead of countryman Bryan Bouffier and 1 minute 54 seconds clear of Kris Meeke in third, the first British driver to reach the podium in Monte Carlo since Colin McRae in 2003.
"This rally's been so crazy. I've never seen anything like it," Meeke said.
Ogier won the day's first stage that passed up the Col du Turini in 19 1/2 minutes, with Jari-Matti Latvala finishing it in second place and Bouffier third.
"It was tough with the snow on the Turini," Bouffier said. "It was more like soup (slush) so we couldn't ease up at all."
The 14th stage - the first of the night sessions - was canceled it and made a neutral, transitional stage after Jaroslav Melicharek's Ford got stuck up the Turini pass and blocked Norway's Andreas Mikkelsen, Finland's Mikko Hirvonen and Britain's Elfyn Evans for several minutes.
The second night session, Sospel to Breil Sur Roya again, was a power stage and saw the fog come down.
"It's been really tricky, conditions I'd never experienced before," Mikkelsen said. "I'm really pleased to finish - there was so much fog."
Robert Kubica retired on Friday after his Ford skidded off the road, while Hyundai drivers Thierry Neuville of Belgium and Dani Sordo of Spain retired on Thursday.