Jan 19, 2014, 11:30 AM EDT
Sebastien Ogier has taken the opening victory of the 2014 FIA World Rally Championship season, the legendary Monte Carlo Rally.
The win is Ogier’s 17th of his WRC career and first at Monte Carlo; he came second to Sebastien Loeb last year, in Loeb’s last season in the championship.
Ogier took seven of 15 stage wins over the three days in his Volkswagen and beat privateer M-Sport Ford entrant Bryan Bouffier by only 51 seconds. As Ogier told the official WRC website though, he had a bit of luck after recovering from a small off on Thursday’s first stage.
“We had a bit of luck this weekend, we have to admit that,” Ogier said. “Our race could have ended on the first corner. All the road section was very humid and then on the first corner of the first stage there was small slush on the road. We understeered into a wall.”
Some snowy conditions made the roads treacherous and it caught others out, including ex-Formula One driver Robert Kubica. The Pole won the first two stages of the rally but crashed out on SS9. Kubica’s competing this season in a third M-Sport Ford.
Behind the top two, the pair of factory Citroens driven by Kris Meeke and Mads Ostberg were third and fourth, with Ogier’s VW teammate Jari-Matti Latvala rounding out the top five.
The next round of the WRC is the Rally Sweden, February 5-8.