The WRC Rallye Monte Carlo kicked off over the past weekend with events transpiring in an unexpected fashion after Sébastien Loeb snatched victory from a puncture ridden Sébastien Ogier.
Whoever predicted it would have been a battle of the French Sébastiens would have been right as it was veteran Loeb who backflipped his way onto the podium.
The duel between the most successful drivers in the sport’s history proved a fitting start to the new hybrid-powered era in the championship’s 50th season. With cars capable of scary power figures and drivers hungry to prove who has the least fear, some of the fastest times were recorded. It was advantage Ogier and Toyota as he initially led after Thursday’s short opening night stage but the following day Loeb proved that despite his age he still had what it takes and managed to set four consecutive fastest times putting him ahead going into the weekend.
Saturday set the stage for the breathtaking WRC Rallye Monte Carlo finale as Ogier regained the lead while experienced Loeb struggled to find the same pace from the day before. The closing stages of Sunday yielded a stricken Ogier who had to limp to the finish with a front left puncture allowing his fellow compatriot a calm final test to seal his eighth Monte-Carlo success in a Ford Puma by 10.5sec.
47 year old Loeb who hasn’t competed in more than a year has now topped the WRC podium in three different decades. This time around it was a little bit different as he did so with 50 year old schoolteacher Isabelle Gamiche as co-driver, who became the first female winner of a WRC fixture since 1997. To prove his fitness and moves, the Flying Frenchman even performed a flawless backflip after his victory on the podium, perhaps he may be wanting to conquer gymnastics when the high intensity of rally driving begins to bore.
The British M-Sport Ford driver and Dakar 2022 runner up admitted: “I didn’t expect so much when I came here,” but has helped usher in the first race of what is poised to be an exciting season of the new era WRC Rally1 spec cars. After the exciting escapades of the WRC Rallye Monte Carlo, fans have the terrains of snowy Sweden to look forward to on the 24th of February.