The 90th Monte-Carlo Rally was one for the ages, as Sebastien Loeb and Sebastien Ogier battled it out on the treacherously icy roads above the Principality, before the rally concluded in Monaco on Sunday, January 23.
The lead changed hands multiple times over the course of the event, but it seemed that the first race of the World Rally Championship was firmly in the bag for Ogier, who managed to extend his lead over Loeb by 21.1s on the penultimate day of the rally.
However, Loeb managed to claw his way back up the leaderboard on a thrilling final day, and it all came down to a shootout between the sport’s greatest on the final stage.
Having been handed a 9.5s lead when Ogier suffered a front-left puncture in his Toyota on the penultimate test of the day, Loeb and co-driver Isabelle Galmiche remained ice-cool as they stormed down the final Power Stage to see off Ogier and new co-driver Benjamin Veillas.
Contributing to the drama on the final stage was the 10s penalty that Ogier received for his jump start, had he not incurred the sanction, the final gap between himself and Loeb would have stood at just 0.5s.
Regardless of this, Loeb won the Monte-Carlo Rally for the eighth time in his already remarkable career. The fast Frenchman’s co-driver, Galmiche was the first female co-driver to win a rally since Fabrizia Pons partnered Piero Liatti to victory in the 1997 Monte-Carlo Rally.
Ogier took second place in the end, while Craig Breen ensured that the Irish flag would proudly fly high as the Irishman completed the podium for M-Sport in third place.
Breen claimed his fourth consecutive WRC podium place after climbing up from sixth to third place, as Toyota’s Elfyn Evans and Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville and Ott Tanak all encountered problems on Saturday, January 22.
With drivers in first and third place on the podium, the M-Sport Ford team enjoyed a considerable degree of success, with the only major downfall being Adrien Fourmaux’s big crash. Fourmaux and his co-driver luckily escaped the scene without sustaining any injuries, but the Ford Puma Rally1 car was without a doubt finished, forcing the Frenchman into early retirement from the rally.
All that remained of Adrien Fourmaux’s M-Sport Ford Puma Rally1 car
This year’s Monte-Carlo Rally concluded where it began, at the heart of the Principality with an awards ceremony on the Casino Square in the presence of HSH Prince Albert.
Monaco residents and rally fans turned out en mass to applaud the drivers, as they pulled up for a picture perfect conclusion to an altogether successful 2022 Monte-Carlo Rally.
Featured image courtesy of the ACM, 2022 Monte-Carlo Rally winners Sebastien Loeb and Isabelle Galmiche