Ogier takes first blood in rally season opener
World Rally Championship leader secures his sixth straight win at Rally Monte-Carlo
Current WRCchampion Sébastien Ogier put in a heroic drive on snow, ice and dry tar in the French Alps on his first return to Citroën, securinghis sixth straight win at Rallye Monte Carlo on Sunday.
He fended off a determined Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) by just 2.2 seconds, one of the closest finishes yet in world rallying.
“It ’s the rally I want to win the most in the season, that’s why I’m so happy now,” said Ogier,whose home town of Gap hosted the opening three days of the rally.
“Six years in a row with threedifferent cars — that ’s not so bad!” he added.
Neuville could only reflect on a second-day overshoot that cost 15 seconds and, ultimately, victory.
“It was a close fight, butwe gave him a nice present on Friday when we made a mistakeand gave him the lead,” he said.
Third place went to Ott Tänakin a Toyota Yaris. After a cleans weep of four stage wins on Saturday,the Estonian’s luck ranout when a broken wheel rim on Friday cost him almost 2 minutes 30 seconds.
Nine-times world champion Sebastien Loeb started his limited return to WRC by finishing fourth in his Hyundai i20 coupe.
The next event is Rally Swedenfrom February 14-17.
Overall result, Rallye Monte Carlo
1. Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) 3h21m15.9s
2. Thierry Neuville/NicolasGilsoul (Hyundai i20 CoupeWRC) +2.2s
3. Ott Tanak/Martin Jarveoja(Toyota Yaris WRC) +2m15.2s
4. Sebastien Loeb/Daniel Elena(Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)+2m28.2s
5. Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC)+2m29. 9s
6. Kris Meeke/Seb Marshall(Toyota Yaris WRC) +5m36.2s
7. Gus Greensmith/Elliott Edmondson (Ford Fiesta R5)+13m04.6s
8. Yoann Bonato/Benjamin Boulloud (Citroën C3 R5)+13m56.5s
9. Stephane Sarrazin/Jacques-Julien Renucci (Hyundai i20 R5)+14m06.8s
10. Adrien Fourmaux/Renaud Jamoul (Citroën C3 R5)+16m03.4 s
Alonso wins rain-hit Daytona 24-hours
Two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso won the rain-shortened 24 Hours of Daytona, overhauling Felipe Nasr two laps from the eventual finish on Sunday.
The Spaniard became only the third F1 champion to win the race, joining Phil Hill (1964) and Mario Andretti (1972).
Driving the Wayne Taylor Cadillac DPI, Alonso took command when Brazilian Nasr failed to navigate turn one and drove into deep water, losing a 1.5-second advantage.
By the time Nasr had things under control, Alonso was 12 seconds ahead.
Kamui Kobayashi, JordanTaylor and Renger van Der Zande teamed up with Alonso for the victory in his second tryin the 24-hour race, which was twice red-flagged because of rain and water on the track andwas halted 10 minutes early.
Alonso, who retired from F1 racing at the end of last season, said the victory would rank h ig hamong all his accomplishments.
“To win this kind of endurance racing at iconic places like Daytona means a lot. With zero experience and a background in endurance before [last year] it’s quite a big thing,” he said.
Already the winner of lastyear’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, the 37-year-old Alonso will attempt to complete the so-called Triple Crown of motorsport by winningthe Indy 500 in May.
Italian Alex Zanardi, who lost both legs in a horrific race crash in 2001, finished Sunday’s 24 Hours of Daytona 9th in class and 32nd overall after experiencing mechanical issues with his BMW M8 GTE.
At the beginning of his first stint driving, Zanardi encountered a problem with his steering wheel.
The 52-year-old was using a special wheel with hand controls, and the connecting pins were damaged when the car was dropped from the jackduring a pitstop.