Six-time French world champion Sébastien Ogier won the Monte Carlo Rally in extemis, his first triumph with Citroën, where he returned this season since 2011, offering the French brand its 100th World Rally Championship (WRC) victory.
Belgian Thierry Neuville (Hyundai), just 2 seconds 10 tenths away, and Estonian Ott Tänak (Toyota); At 2 minutes, 15 seconds and 2 tenths, they completed the podium.
The other French legend, Sébastien Loeb, a nine-time world champion and making his Hyundai debut, was fourth, 13 seconds off the podium.
Leading the inaugural test of the schedule from Friday’s seventh stage, Ogier was unable to carry his difference from Neuville beyond a handful of seconds, a treat for spectators, who were in suspense until the 16th and final stage.
At the exit of this SS16, only 4 tenths separated the two drivers, when Ogier complained of a problem with the accelerator. Finally he overcame the difficulty and raised his arms.
Before that, Ogier, who made no mistakes, took advantage of the fifteen seconds that Neuville allowed himself in the fifth stage, when he went off the track.
Third on Saturday, Loeb was unable to contain Tanak, winner of all the stages on Saturday and two on Sunday.
He did keep fourth position against the Finn Jari-Matti Latvala (Toyota), finally fifth.
The Power Stage (SS16) was won by the British Kris Meeke (Toyota) ahead of Ogier, Neuville, Tänak and the Finn Teemu Suninen (M-Sport Ford).
1. Sébastien Ogier-Julien Ingrassia (FRA / Citroën C3) 3h21: 15.9
2. Thierry Neuville-Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL / Hyundai i20) at 2.2
3. Ott Tänak-Martin Järveoja (EST / Toyota Yaris) 2: 15.2
4. Sébastien Loeb-Daniel Elena (FRA-MON / Hyundai i20) 2: 28.2
5. Jari-Matti Latvala-Miikka Anttila (FIN / Toyota Yaris) 2: 29.9
6. Kris Meeke-Sebastian Marshall (GBR / Toyota Yaris) +5: 36.2
7. Gus Greensmith-Elliott Edmondson (GBR / Ford Fiesta R5) 13: 04.6 (WRC2 Pro)
8. Yoann Bonato-Benjamin Boulloud (FRA / Citroën C3 R5) 13: 56.5 (WRC2)
9. Stéphane Sarrazin-Jacques-Julien Renucci (FRA / Hyundai i20 R5) 14: 06.8
10. Adrien Fourmaux-Renaud Jamoul (FRA-BEL / Ford Fiesta R5) 16: 03.4 (WRC2)
– Classification of the Power Stage (ES16):
1. Kris Meeke (5 points)
2. Sébastien Ogier (4 pts)
3. Thierry Neuville (3 pts)
4. Ott Tänak (2 pts)
5. Teemu Suninen (1 pt)
– Best times on the stages: Tänak 7 (ES1, ES9, ES10, ES11, ES12, ES13, ES14), Neuville 3 (ES2, ES8, ES15), Loeb 2 (ES4, ES7), Ogier 2 (ES5, ES6 ex aequo), Latvala 1 (ES6 ex aequo), Meeke 1 (ES16)
– Main dropouts:
Teemu Suninen-Marko Salminen (FIN / Ford Fiesta), track start (SS1), started in Rally2 on Friday
Esapekka Lappi-Janne Ferm (FIN / Citroën C3), mechanical break (ES6), started in Rally2 on Saturday, engine problem (ES9), definitive abandonment
Pontus Tidemand-Ola Floene (SWE-NOR / Ford Fiesta), mechanical break (SS6), started in Rally2 on Saturday
Andreas Mikkelsen-Anders Jaeger (NOR / Hyundai i20), accident (SS9), permanent abandonment
Elfyn Evans-Scott Martin (GBR / Ford Fiesta), road start (SS10), final abandonment
– Ranking of the Drivers’ World Cup:
1. Sébastien Ogier (FRA / Citroën) 29 points
2. Thierry Neuville (Bel / Hyundai) 21
3. Ott Tänak (EST / Toyota) 17
4. Kris Meeke (GBR / Toyota) 13
5. Sébastien Loeb (FRA / Hyundai) 12
6. Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN / Toyota) 10
11. Teemu Suninen (FIN / M-Sport Ford) 1
– Classification of the Constructors’ World Cup:
1. Hyundai 30 points
2. Citroën 25
3. Toyota 25
4. M-Sport Ford 14 points