WRC - Ogier opens title defence with Monte Carlo triumph

Frenchman Sebastian Ogier began his world title defence with a commanding win amid tricky weather conditions at the season-opening Monte Carlo Rally on Saturday.

Reuters
WRC - Ogier opens title defence with Monte Carlo triumph
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French driver Sebastien Ogier steers his Volkswagen Polo R during the 10th stage of the 82nd Monte-Carlo Rally (AFP)

The Volkswagen driver, who won his first world crown last season, had dominated from day two and easily mastered his rivals in the rain-hit final stages of the race.

Ogier claimed his 17th career win with a lead of one minute 18.9 seconds over compatriot Bryan Bouffier in a Ford. Briton Kris Meeke was third for Citroen, 36 seconds further back.

It was a perfect start for the world champion who also took two bonus points by finishing second behind team mate Jari-Matti Latvala of Finland in the final power stage in heavy rain.

"It's been tough, we're happy to finish. I wasn't in a mood to take risks for bonus points, already perfect," Ogier wrote on his Twitter feed seconds after he crossed the finish line.

The Frenchman did not need to take any chances after extending his lead by winning the final day's first two stages.

The penultimate stage, raced on snow, was cancelled after Jaroslav Melicharek's Ford slid and blocked the road.

That helped Bouffier and Meeke, who secured their first podium finishes in the main WRC category.

The 34-year-old Meeke was the first Briton to claim a top-three spot since the late Colin McRae in Monte Carlo in 2003.

"I've never seen anything like this," Meeke was quoted as saying on the championship's official website (www.wrc.com).

"I'm delighted to be here on my first event with the Citroen factory team. Thanks to (team principal) Yves Matton for his faith in me."

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