Triumph at Rally Monte Carlo
Volkswagen opened the new season of the FIA World Rally Championship with a dream result.
Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia produced an irresistible fightback and an outstanding driving display to secure victory on the first weekend of the 2014 season.
The success at Monte is their 17th victory in the WRC, and their 10th with Volkswagen.
The win was the duo’s second at the rally classic, having previously won in 2009 when the event in the Mediterranean principality did not form part of the world championship.
Second place went to Ford driver Bryan Bouffier, who won in 2011, with Citroën’s Kris Meeke taking third.
The competitors at the notorious Monte faced extremely difficult weather and road conditions with rain in the valleys and snow at altitude.
Volkswagen ended the classic with all three Polo R WRCs in the points. Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila and Andreas Mikkelsen/Mikko Markkula picked up valuable points in fifth and seventh place respectively.
The sudden onset of winter in the French Maritime Alps with heavy rain in the valleys and the shock arrival of snow made driving a real challenge.
Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia and their team-mates lost a lot of time in these conditions. The World Champions found themselves back in ninth place. They showed their undoubted class from the fifth stage onwards, however, finishing consistently in the top-three from then on in and winning seven special stages. By the midway point of the Monte they had moved into the lead and never looked back.
Weather conditions were so extreme that the 14th special stage of the Rally Monte Carlo had to be cancelled. So much snow fell on the notorious Col de Turini between the first and second loop on Saturday that the second run had to be neutralised, with some World Rally Cars stuck in the snow.
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After facing extreme conditions Volkswagen ended the classic with all three Polo R WRCs in the points, first, fifth and seventh