Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia win the 86th Rallye Monte-Carlo on Ford Fiesta WRC. Sixth victory in Monaco and fifth in a row. Second place for the estonian Ott Tanak and third place for the finnish Jari-Matti Latvala, both on Toyota Yaris WRC.
Seb, another win on what’s been a tough Rallye Monte-Carlo. How’s it been for you?
Sébastien Ogier: Once again it was a huge challenge. We always come here knowing it’s going be a difficult week and a tough event to make the good tyre choice. Ott was a difficult contender, but it’s also always very good to be here on the podium. Of course, I’m very pleased, this is the best way to start the season. It’s good to come back and start the season this way, it’s special, but I never struggled so much to be right with the tyres. It was never super-clear with the conditions changing all the time. It’s good that we managed to do less mistakes than the others, it was almost impossible to do the perfect weekend and we did mistakes as well. Ours were small mistakes with small consequences and that’s how we did this for the fifth time in the row. It feels good.
How tough was Saturday morning?
It was definitely one of the hardest stages of my career to drive in this moment. It was hard to explain how tough, I wasn’t complaining but it was not enjoyable to drive. It was about surviving. You come to the finish with a big relief and you’re super-happy crossing the line, but you have no idea if you are one minute slower or faster. It was a good surprise to see we took the minute compared to Ott. From then on we had the chance to try and manage the gap, but it was not easy. All the day it was tricky with the tyre to control in those conditions. It would have been super-easy to fall out of position. I’m happy to manage to keep the gap yesterday night. I expected today to be easier, but when we wake up we have news of frost and black ice to deal with on Turini. It was tricky until the end.
What was the plan for the Power Stage?
I couldn’t be completely relaxed and not really go for it. I knew with Thierry and Ott that we were fighting for two points. Thierry, Andreas and Craig had the four soft tyres for the Power Stage. I had worn super softs and not the right things to be fast, so I tried to drive clean. The road was clean at the beginning, but then we had some dirty corners at the finish and I couldn’t go for it. Every point is important at the moment, so I’m happy with this single point.
What did you think of Malcolm Wilson’s performance as Team Principal, was it good?
I had better say yes, I guess! It’s always difficult to start the season in Monte-Carlo on the hardest event in terms of organisation, logistics, meteo and co-ordination – all of that is tricky. We had some changes in the team, some new engineers, a new meteo forecaster who is unfortunately from Estonia – that’s why we got it wrong sometimes! No, I mean when we know how hard it is, we have to congratulate all of them, they have all tried as hard as they can.
How difficult was your job this week?
Julien Ingrassia: Each time we’re here on the podium – and my rivals say the same – we’re here without any breath for one full week. Congratulations to all the co-drivers on doing a very good job, all the guys do the same as me. It’s a very difficult position to get the notes and read new notes which are completely different from what you have on the recce. You memorise some of these notes and then they are completely different, I realise sometimes I was just reading and not analysing what I was saying. There were a lot of changes of rhythm, so it’s really good when the driver is still trusting you in the car.
It’s a great start to the season…
Yes. We know the championship will be hard and Monte-Carlo is special, this is the city of Seb and my region and it reminds me of one year ago. We have to thank those guys, it’s one year on and now we have to start again for everything – it’s a big motivation.