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Sébastien Loeb Wins the First Hybrid Car Rally Season at 2022 WRC Rallye Monte- Carlo

With this win at Rallye Monte Carlo, Sébastien Loeb equals the tally with fellow competitor Sébastien Ogier of team TOYOTA GAZOO RACING WRT

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Partha Pratim Ray
Partha Pratim Ray
Partha Pratim Ray is an India-based expert and senior journalist in corporate communication, branding, social media management, and public relations.

MONACO. Monte Carlo: Sébastien Loeb of team M-SPORT FORD WORLD RALLY driving in a Ford Puma sealed his 80th victory in the WRC and eighth win at the 90th edition of Rallye Monte-Carlo, WRC’s jewel in the crown and the oldest in the calendar on Sunday, January 23, 2022, after 17 special stages over 4 days covering 296.03km. 

Craig Breen secured third position driving in another Puma for the team M-SPORT FORD WORLD RALLY finishing 90 secs behind Loeb.

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Kalle Rovanperä finished fourth. He significantly improved his position after set-up changes improved the balance of his GR Yaris as he was trailing behind the top 10 at the beginning of the race. Gus Greensmith claimed fifth in another Puma after winning his first special stage at WRC level.

Thierry Neuville was sixth in a Hyundai i20 N. Ott Tänak retired his i20 N in the first climb up the Col de Fontbelle after nosing into a bank and damaging his car’s radiator, while team-mate Oliver Solberg dropped 35 minutes after locking his brakes and sliding down a bank.

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Elfyn Evans finished 21st after he beached his GR Yaris on a bank and remained stranded there for 20 minutes. WRC2 winner Andreas Mikkelsen finished seventh ahead of Takamoto Katsuta. 

With this win at Rallye Monte Carlo, The first WRC since 2018 in Catalunya, Sébastien Loeb equals the tally with fellow competitor Sébastien Ogier of team TOYOTA GAZOO RACING WRT. Sébastien Loeb won 79 races with Daniel Elena and the last being the first race of the new hybrid era in a new car with Isabelle Galmiche. Galmiche, aged 50 and a school teacher became the first female winner of a WRC since 1997.

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Sébastien Ogier also participated in the rally in a new car of the hybrid era and was accompanied by a new teammate, Benjamin Veillas. 

New Season and New Rally1 Regulations

2022 season of World Rally Championships unfurls a new era in motorsports with the new Rally1 regulations coming into action. The cars are now designed to run with hybrid power and also comes with enhanced safety features. M-Sport Ford come into the season with a wholly new car, a new Puma while the Hyundai i20 came with a new shape. Toyota is using the GR Yaris body for their cars.

The Evolution of the Rally and The Duel Between The Two Sébastien’s

The duel between the most successful drivers in the sport’s history proved a fitting start to the new hybrid-powered era in the championship’s 50th season.

The first day that was a Thursday saw reigning champion, Ogier, fastest through the Shakedown stages by building a lead of 6.7s. Loeb kept pace with Ogier through the Col de Turini stages to end the night in second place. Elfyn Evans was third in his GR Yaris 11.2sec off the lead. They were followed by the Puma drivers, Adrien Fourmaux and Gus Greensmith.


The second day of the Rallye saw two loops of three stages in the Mercantour National Park covering 97.86km. Loeb took four stage wins out of the six to end the day in the lead. Evans overtook teammate Ogier who dropped to third. Thierry Neuville secured the fourth position in his Hyundai and ended 8.9sec clear of team-mate Ott Tänak.
The highlights of the 2nd day can be viewed here.

The third day of the Rallye witnessed lots of action in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence. Ogier took lead on this day by leading two of the three morning stages to gain a 5.4sec advantage over Loeb at the midpoint. For the last 5km stage, Ogier outpaced Loeb by 16.1sec to reach the final overnight halt with a 21.1sec lead. Craig Breen was third in the other Puma.

Kalle Rovanperä gained a lot of ground after winning the final two stages and ascended to the fourth position in his GR Yaris. To watch the all the highlights of the rally, visit the official channel of ‘Dirtfish’ on Youtube.
 

The final day saw the rally return to the Alpes-Maritime and Ogier held the lead by nearly half a minute from Loeb. However Ogier was twice hit by bad luck in the last two stages: First, a puncture of his front left tire, in SS16, finishing on the rim and losing 34 seconds in the process. After that a ten-second penalty for a jump start in SS17, due to a small technical glitch which forced him to release the clutch a little too early.

Loeb ended the final stage with a 10.5s lead with Ogier in second place. Breen finished almost 90sec further back in third. Rovanperä secured fourth with Gus Greensmith claiming fifth.

“I didn’t expect so much when I came here”.“It was a great fight, Ogier was really fast and I struggled a bit yesterday and even this morning.” Sébastien Loeb of team M-SPORT FORD WORLD RALLY admitted

“I can hold my head up. I did the job this weekend. Unfortunately these things happen in rally,” said Sébastien Ogier of team TOYOTA GAZOO RACING WRT.

 WRC Rally Monza – Race Result

  1. S. Loeb & I. Galmiche (M-Sport Ford World Rally), Time: 3:00:32.8, Position: 1st 
  2. S. Ogier & B. Veillas (Toyota Gazoo Racing), Time: +10.5,
    Position: 2nd 
  3. C. Breen & P. Nagle (M-Sport Ford World Rally), Time: +1:39.8,
    Position: 3rd 

Drivers Championship standings after WRC Rally Monza

  1. Sebastien Loeb – 27 pts  
  2. Sebastien Ogier – 19 pts
  3. Kalle Rovanperä – 17 pts
  4. C Breen – 15 pts
  5. Thierry Neuville – 11 pts

Manufacturers’ standings after WRC Rally Monza

  1. M-Sport Ford World Rally Team – 42 pts
  2. Toyota Gazoo Racing Wrt – 39 pts
  3. Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team – 13 pts

Sébastien Loeb the ‘Le Patron’

Born in 1974 at Haguenau, Bas Rhin, France, Sébastien Loeb nicknamed ‘Le Patron’, or ‘The Boss’ is often considered to be the greatest rally racer of all time, having won a record nine World Rally Championship titles between 2004 and 2012.

Loeb retired from full-time rallying after winning his ninth championship in 2012 and entered selected WRC events only after that. The nine-time WRC champion returned to Dakar Rally in 2022 in Saudi Arabia and finished second behind Nasser Al-Attiyah.

Soon after that he participated in WRC Rallye Monte Carlo with M-Sport and became the oldest ever winner at the world rally circuit to win a WRC at the age of 47 years, 10 months and 28 days. Loeb was awarded the Legion of Honour.

About WRC 2022 Rallye Monte Carlo

The 2022 WRC Rallye Monte-Carlo was the most unpredictable rally on asphalt roads in the French Alps was organised from January 20 till 23rd. The rally consists of 17 stages totalling 296.03 km. Historically, the first run happened in the year 1911 and initially, the event was designed to promote Monte-Carlo as a tourist destination. 

This year the four-day event started with an opening ceremony at the newly refurbished Casino Square, Monaco followed soon by drivers heading into darkness through Lucéram / Lantosque and La Bollène-Vésubie / Moulinet area for a distance of up to 38.45km. On the second day, the action moved to the Mercantour National Park covering 97.86km.

The drivers head west to the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence on the third day for a distance of 92.46km. The final day action returns to the Alpes-Maritimes and the drivers drive the new La Penne / Collongues and Briançonnet / Entrevaux twice without service and the second round being the Wolf Power Stage adding up to 67.26km.

Col de Turini stage of the Rallye Monte Carlo added this year again after 2013 remained one of the WRC’s iconic locations driven at night. 95% of the special stages in the 2022 rally are new compared to the previous year.

About FIA

The Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile or International Automobile Federation (https://www.fia.com) (FIA) is an association established on June 20, 1904. FIA works across three key interlinked areas of activity i.e.: Sport, Campaigns, and Mobility, and promotes motorsport and road safety around the world. 

Conclusion

The championship heads to Sweden next month as Rally Sweden will take place in Umeå from February 24 till 27, 2022. Loeb and Ogier won’t be competing in Sweden.  A new set of champions will be visible this season as the evergreen champions decide to take rest for the time being.

Also Read: Lewis Hamilton Wins F1’s Inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

Author

  • Partha Pratim Ray

    Partha Pratim Ray is an India-based expert and senior journalist in corporate communication, branding, social media management, and public relations.

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