D he old glory only lasted one day. Fifteen months after his retirement, rally retiree Sébastien Loeb had the honor of contesting the Monte Carlo Rally for Citroën, which he has already won seven times for the French. The nine-time rally world champion promptly shocked the competition with a fabulous time to kick off on Thursday evening (January 22nd), when he gave the reigning world champion and last year's Monte winner Sébastien Ogier half a minute over a distance of around 21 kilometers. Loeb benefited from its starting position in the back of the top category on icy slopes, while the best of the previous season had to sweep snow up front.
Loeb and Meeke with serious mistakes
But the younger Seb hit back, and for the lunch service on Friday the VW works driver was only three seconds behind Loeb after an open exchange of blows. When he tried to add a shovel in the afternoon, he slipped off the track on the last stage of the day and amputated the left rear wheel suspension on a rock. Loeb made it out of the test, but then had to give up and, according to the Rally 2 rule, go back into the race on Saturday with a ten-minute time penalty
To make matters worse for the shocked Citroën team, Kris Meeke overtook him in the second DS3 on the same test exactly the same fate as Loeb. For the French and the Irish, it was only enough for ranks 8 and 10 in the end, which means that Citroën is only third in the brand rating, because Mads Östberg, who did a flawless gymnastics through the Maritime Alps in last year's DS3, drove despite a mysterious one Electronics problem that temporarily paralyzed a cylinder in fourth place, but the Norwegian was not nominated for the World Championship.
In second place in the table is the Hyundai team, which because of the parallel development of a new i20 was launched with a practically unchanged car from last year. The asphalt experts Thierry Neuville and Dani Sordo could not keep up with the pace of the top over the distance, but apart from Sordo's engine, which did not start on Friday evening after the service, the Koreans had no technical problems.
Especially within the team, the players in the blue-red racers created tension. Before the last stage, Sordo was only two tenths of a second ahead of Neuville, in the end the Belgian was eight tenths faster than the Spaniard,but was most pleased that he was able to get through the queen of the rallies to the end for the first time.
Kubica wild and fast
The conditions were as usual difficult. Ice on the higher passages, snowfall on Friday night and sunshine for the rest of the weekend gave the teams a headache when choosing tires, despite ice spies and weather services. If the asphalt was just damp or even dry, the dirt removed from the banquet by the drivers in front still made for slippery slopes.
The most glaring candidate for the short cut was the former Formula 1 driver Robert Kubica, who himself had already dented the underbody on Thursday and left the alternator with a short circuit. As a result, the Pole had to take second place on Friday in a privately entered Ford Fiesta, where he nailed three best times on the asphalt under the best conditions, and then flew twice at high speed on the eighth stage.
With a puncture and a tattered fender, the Krakow got off lightly. After a fourth best time on Saturday, the last stage on Sunday ended. After a brake failure, Kubica rumbled against a wall, which tore off both wheels on the left.
His former M-Sport team did not get through the Maritime Alps unscathed. The juniors Ott Tänak and Elfyn Evans were temporarily even in second and fourth place, but both made a driving error on Friday that led Evans into a wall and Tänak into a ditch. With seventh place for the Welshman and only 18th place for the Estonian, the former Ford works team leaves Monte Carlo defeated.
Ogier drives to victory in Monte Carlo in a controlled manner
A flawless triumphant drive put down the dominators of the previous year. As usual, there were three VW Polo WRCs at the start, and as usual they crossed the finish line in positions one to three. VW junior Andreas Mikkelsen stayed out of all battles for the top and drove without threat from behind in third place, his first podium finish at the Monte
Vice-World Champion Jari Matti Latvala would even be with one on the uncanny terrain I was satisfied with fourth place but finished second and felt like a winner. Apart from a harmless spin, the Finn had nothing to report. He has never traveled to Sweden for the second run with more points.
There, like last year, the championship leader will be Sébastien Ogier. While rival Loeb attacked violently, the world champion drove down his boots coolly, did not take any risks when choosing tires and groped cautiously through the smooth passages. Ogier was still in a class of his own together with Loeb, and because, unlike the great champion of the past, he made no mistakes, the champion of thePresent the third Monte Carlo victory of his career.
Armin Kremer on the WRC2 podium
For France and Citroën still had a couple of trophies. Loeb protégé and Citroën junior Stéphane Lefebvre won the undisputed WRC 2 classification in a DS3 R5, Quentin Gilbert also safely won the Junior World Championship in the front-wheel drive DS3 R3. In both categories there is also good news from a German point of view. In WRC 2, Armin Kremer drove to a strong third place in the aged Skoda Fabia S2000 with a naturally aspirated engine against the more powerful turbo R5 despite a controversial ten-second time penalty for being late at a time control.
Christian Riedemann landed even further ahead in the Juniors field. In the Citroën DS3 prepared by Roland Leschhorn, the North German struggled with the tricky track conditions on his Monte debut, but got better and better and on the final Sunday overran the World Cup debutant Ole Christian Veiby from Norway with giant strides. At the legendary Col de Turini alone, Riedemann took a round minute from the Norwegian and even set his first Monte best time on the holy mountain of rallying. The reward was second place in the junior ranking.
We have the pictures of Monte 2015 in our gallery.