There is only a 20-second gap, all round, between Seb Ogier and Seb Loeb before the final three stages of the 90th Rallye Monte-Carlo, because the older of the two set another best time to start his Sunday morning. It was on SS14, between La Penne and Collongues (19 km), on a completely dry road, with only a few patches of frost which did not bother so much the two multiple world champions.
“I attacked, anyway,” said Loeb after passing the timing panel, while slowing down his Ford Puma Hybrid. “Yes, definitely!” replied Isabelle Galmiche, smiling from ear to ear. She has been living a dream in the right-hand seat since Thursday evening, and it continues. It’s the French crew’s 5th stage win in this rally (equal with Ogier), and the 930th for the Alsatian grandmaster since his WRC debut in 2001. A record that may never be beaten.
“It was a great stage, but I didn’t take any risk,” admitted Ogier to explain the 1.1 second lost on Loeb. It was unimportant, just one more special stage win for glory, the dominant theme of this historic 90th edition, historic also because these two WRC legends are posted 1st and 2nd before the final sprint. This has not happened since Rally Sweden in 2013.
After SS14, Oliver Solberg threw in the towel at the Briançonnet regroup. A decision taken by his team manager because the young Swede wanted to stop breathing fumes in his cockpit, which made him dizzy and prevented him from focusing on his driving. Two down for Hyundai, because Ott Tänak did not leave the service park on Sunday morning, after his two punctures and retirement on Saturday.
The only survivor among the Koreans is therefore Thierry Neuville, the only priority driver who left this morning with two super-softs, in order to take points in the Power Stage, as Gus Greensmith (5th), in his Ford Puma, is still 1 minute and 11 seconds ahead of him. As for the leading quartet, it is still made up of Ogier, Loeb, Craig Breen (Ford Puma) and Kalle Rovanperä (Toyota). In WRC2, Norwegian Andreas Mikkelsen (Skoda Fabia) seems to be heading for another success.