The Rally Monte Carlo Course
Drivers will take on 394.74km of ice, snow and gravel across 17 competitive stages over the four days, culminating in an intense dash across the Col de Turini on Sunday morning, where the first rally winner of 2018 will be crowned. You have to look favourably again towards Neuville and Ogier – the two showed incredible speed last year and were neck-and-neck for part of the season, before Ogier grabbed his fifth victory.
Whilst both drivers remain in their existing cars, Andreas Mikkelsen as the third favourite could be a more risky bet, as the Norwegian has only driven a handful of rallies in the Hyundai, after driving for multiple teams in 2017.
|1st||Sebastien Ogier||Sebastien Ogier||Sebastien Ogier||Sebastien Ogier|
|2nd||Jari-Matti Latvala||Andreas Mikkelsen||Jari-Matti Latvala||Bryan Bouffier|
|3rd||Ott Tanak||Thierry Neuville||Andreas Mikkelsen||Kris Meeke|
Clearly, Sebastien Ogier has a proven track record at Monte Carlo with four victories in the last four events. Former VW teammates Latvala and Mikkelsen have both finished on the podium twice during the same time, while bookies’ favourite Neuville has only appeared in the top three once since 2014.
Sebastien Ogier provided the boost M-Sport needed when he joined the team last year, bringing multiple victories and podiums, as well as providing the experience of working alongside a world champion to Ott Tanak, who also helped bring M-Sport their first manufacturers’ title since Ford won the 2007 season. Four consecutive victories at Monte Carlo make Ogier a strong contender here.
Thierry Neuville took the battle to Ogier early in the 2017 season, managing to keep applying the pressure all the way through to the season finale in Australia. Despite winning four events (Corsica, Argentina, Poland and Australia) compared to Ogier’s two event wins (Monte Carlo and Portugal), the Belgian’s performance during the remaining rallies wasn’t quite enough to match Ogier, meaning he had to settle for second place overall.
Andreas Mikkelsen endured a staggered season in 2017, initially competing in a Skoda Fabia R2 (WRC2) for Monte Carlo, Corsica and Portugal, before driving for Citroen in Sardinia, Poland and Germany, and finally for Hyundai (where he has secured a drive for the entire 2018 and 2019 seasons) in Catalunya, GB and Australia. Mikkelsen’s best finish for Hyundai was a fourth place at Wales Rally GB, however this he will hope to improve immeasurably given more time in the car. Hyundai’s commitment to the Norwegian means teammates Dani Sordo and Hayden Paddon will share the final car for the 2018 season.
Expect a strong performance from Sebastien Ogier at Monte Carlo – the reigning champion has shown he has the pace and skill to master this tricky event, and the prospect of making it a fifth consecutive victory at the rally will spur on the M-Sport Ford driver. While it’s difficult to call the remainder of the podium, Scandinavian drivers such as Mikkelsen and Latvala are likely to put their experience on snow and ice to good use here.
Sports.net’s Top Tip
Sebastien Ogier to make it a fifth consecutive victory at Rallye Monte-Carlo.