Toyota’s Sebastien Ogier began his 2021 WRC campaign with a thumping 50th career victory in the Monte Carlo season opener.
Seven-time WRC champions Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia are back to their winning ways in the 2021 season as the duo took home a solid win in the Monte Carlo season opener – Ogier’s record eighth Monte Carlo win with five different manufacturers and also his 50th career victory. With this, the defending drivers’ champion also broke former rival Sebastien Loeb’s record of seven Monte Carlo wins and has surpassed living-legend Walter Röhrl’s 37-year-old record of winning the WRC’s blue riband event with four different manufacturers during his career. Before Toyota, Ogier had registered Monte Carlo wins while driving for teams like Peugeot, Volkswagen, Ford and Citroën.
Ogier crossed the finish line 32.6 seconds clear of Toyota teammates Elfyn Evans & Scott Martin and claimed victory in three of the four stages held on the last day, including the final Wolf Power Stage. Therefore, he sealed a maximum 30-point haul from the rally. Also, for the first time in WRC’s history, the five additional points from the Power Stage will be added to the manufacturers’ championship total as well.
Last year’s Monte Carlo winner, Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville, alongside rookie co-driver Martijn Wydaeghe, finished a further 40.9s behind Evans in his i20, to claim the final spot on the podium. This too was an impressive result for the Belgian, following a split with his long-term co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul less than a week before the start of the event.
With the chances of making it an all-Toyota podium marred by an early puncture on the final day, Kalle Rovanperä had to settle for fourth place overall, followed by Hyundai’s Dani Sordo in fifth.
Hyundai’s Ott Tänak did not have a good start to his 2021 WRC campaign as he suffered two punctures in back-to-back stages. With just one spare onboard his i20, the Estonian limped back to service, but organisers decided there was insufficient rubber on the rim to drive on the public road and was, therefore, forced out.
The event also marked the debut of Toyota’s new team principal, its erstwhile driver Jari-Matti Latvala, who was elated by the team’s result and said, ‘I am really, really proud of the team. What a fantastic result. For my first rally in this role and immediately we have a one-two-four finish, and also Takamoto in sixth place, as well the maximum points in the Power Stage – it’s incredible! I have a fantastic team and we have the best drivers.'