Nine-time WRC champion Sébastien Loeb won the opening round of the 2013 WRC season in Monte Carlo on Saturday. The semi-retired Frenchman, who will only be contesting four rallies this year, has nonetheless proved he is still a legitimate threat for stage wins.
This year’s Monte Carlo Rally was marked by heavy snow and rain, which turned it into a real battle for survival across the 16 stages held in and around Valence and Monaco. Loeb and co-driver Daniel Elena kept their Citroën DS3 WRC ahead of the chasing pack to earn Loeb his 77th rally victory.
“I’m always happy when I win, and Monte Carlo is one of the most exciting rallies I’ve done. This one was really, really difficult. The conditions were extreme compared to what we have usually and winning wasn’t easy,” Loeb said.
In second was compatriot Sébastien Ogier and co-driver Julien Ingrassia, in the debut of the Volkswagen Polo R WRC. The former Citroën junior team driver was obviously pleased with their performance.
“I’m so happy, it’s like a victory for me. I’m a competitor and I’ve never been happy to finish second but this weekend it was really the target, and to start the season like this is amazing. I’ve been waiting for one year, I’ve done so many tests and it was frustrating sometimes, and now here we are with the Polo on the pace already.”
Marking his return to the Citroën World Rally Team was Dani Sordo, who will switch across the brand’s two teams, Citroën Total Abu Dhabi and Abu Dhabi Citroën Total, for the remainder of the season. The Spaniard and fellow countryman Carlos de Barrio managed to scoop the final podium spot this weekend.
The next event on the WRC calendar is Rally Sweden, which happens from 7 to 10 February.
1. Sébastien Loeb – 25 points
2. Sébastien Ogier – 18
3. Dani Sordo – 15
4. Mikko Hirvonen – 12
5. Bryan Bouffer – 10
1. Citroën Total Abu Dhabi – 37 points
2. Volkswagen Motorsport – 18
3. Abu Dhabi Citroën Total – 15
4. Qatar M-Sport – 10
5. Lotus Team WRC – 8