Sebastien Loeb WRC Monte Carlo 2022

WRC Monte Carlo 2022 launched – the unpredictable start of the new era

What a start to the FIA World Rally Championship 2022! What a turnaround in racing! The WRC Monte Carlo promised to be a special event, but who knew it would bring the big surprises! Sebastien Loeb literally nibbled away victory from Sebastien Ogier. And hybrid Rally1 cars turned out to be completely different. The new hybrid era has turned the positions on their head that no one expected. Let’s clench our fists to indicate the most important points in the WRC Monte Carlo 2022.

Rallye Monte Carlo: first touches before the start.

Frankly, passionate winner Sebastien Ogier, part-time Toyota Gazoo Racing driver, was expected to start the Rally Monte Carlo at a normally modest pace and take the lead very quickly. It had been expected that the French rally driver would lose the lead on Friday and Saturday, but would win the Rally de Monte-Carlo on Sunday. While Hyundai Motorsport will fight back the positions. Thierry Neuville and Ott Tanak will still be on the podium on Sunday. That’s how it started and it was going to stay that way, but… alas.

The no one thing, that no one expected is that M-Sport Ford as a rally team will come closer and closer and still to keep pushing very hard. Last year, the team wasn’t happy, but gave up top positions. Even rally fans suspected that it would be a real miracle that M-Sport would be at the top, but they still believed in the favorite.

Winners and losers of the Rally Monte Carlo 2022

Sebastien Ogier did not hesitate and set the fastest time. Toyota Gazoo Racing driver led the shakedown as well as SS1 and SS2. Everything promised to be good, but literally on their heels – the pums ran to Ogier’s Toyota Yaris. Not literally, but still the WRC Ford Puma Rally1 cars of Sebastien Loeb and Adrien Fourmaux. Although Ford Puma Rally of Adrien Fourmaux gave up – the rally driver crashed, the crew is well.
Behind the unstoppable leaders, two Sebastiens, Loeb and Ogier, the real heated battle ensued.

Gas Greensmith managed a small victory, with his once again Ford Puma rally car on the SS7. Since then, there have been rumors, what if M-Sport Ford could opened the new hybrid era with the best Rally1 hybrid cars? At the same time, we were able to call Sebastien Loeb’s new co-driver Isabelle Garmisch the star of the weekend in Monaco. All eyes, albeit against her will, were on her and we were simply delighted with Isabelle Garmisch’s combative voice! Before that, the nine-time world rally champion Sebastien Loeb had been on board with Daniel Elena for 23 years! Thus, Isabelle is both a rookie and experienced co-driver and the winner of the weekend on WRC Monte Carlo 2022.

Oliver Solberg WRC Monte Carlo 2022
Oliver Solberg, Rallye Monte Carlo

The last chance to fight back at the WRC Monte Carlo 2022.

Under the shock of the Pumas rally cars of M-Sport Ford, Toyota Gazoo racing as well as Hyundai Motorsport could not accepted the situation. There was only little time left to the finish. It was necessary to exert 200% pressure to regain the positions. Almost immediately Elfyn Evans, Thierry Neuville, Oliver Solberg and Ott Tanak came to find the extra speed.

If Elfyn Evans was able to achieve a small victory on SS9, then Tanak and Solberg were overwhelmed. Ott suffered a puncture, Oliver full throttle. Thierry Neuville had to fight with technical problems with his hybrid rally car towards the end of the first ten places. It was not the start, then the Belgian rally driver hoped. Well, even Elfyn Evans could not resist and made a regrettable mistake on SS11 and refused to fight for the victory.

In the meantime, Sebastiens, Loeb and Ogier all teased each other with the fastest times and put all that noise behind them. Real mind games ensued. When someone asked “How will win the Rally Monte Carlo?” during the WRC All Livestream, the rally fans shouted “Sebastien!” in one voice, and they were absolutely right.

Sebastien Loeb Rallye de Monte Carlo, WRC official
Sebastien Loeb Rallye de Monte Carlo, WRC official

Sunday’s showdown.

Sunday is a special day at every round of the FIA World Rally Championship, especially here at the Monte Carlo Rally. It is the day when the mistake is unacceptable. It is always a test of endurance and nerves for rally drivers, as well as the final check for new hybrid rally cars. Angry Thierry Neville hurried to make up for it with all his might. He took another victory on SS15, but alas… With co-driver Martijn Wydaeghe, the crew had to settle for only 6th place at the finish.

While another Huyndai WRC driver Oliver Solber retired. Swede had to drive in the cabin of his car in smoky conditions from day one. However, the team did not solve this problem and after the end of the SS14, the crew withdrew from the race due to health reasons. Ott Tanak also withdrew from the challenge and did not participate in the start of the final day of the WRC Monte Carlo Rally. Damage to Tanak’s Hyundai i20 N Rally 1 after a collision with a rock proved too serious to continue the race.

Rally Monte Carlo results
Rally Monte Carlo results

Monte Carlo Rally 2022′ finish.

Until the last second, it was completely unclear which of the two Sebastiens would win. In the M-Sport Ford, the entire rally team afraid to blink and stare, when Sebastien Loeb had passed the last power stage SS17 with an aggressive tone from Isabelle Galmiche. They made it ten seconds ahead of Sebastien Ogier, the crew won the Rally Monte Carlo 2022. We also join the joy of all M-Sport Ford Rally Team fans who had waited so long for the longed-for victory! Defeated, but still with his head held high and smiling, Sebastien Ogier with his new co-driver Benjamin Veillas finished second.

“Getting it done, slowly but surely” seems to have been the motto for another Ford Puma Rally1 from Craig Breen, who confirmed the superiority of the M-Sport with a third podium finish at the WRC Monte Carlo 2022.

Sebastien Ogier and Sebastien loeb, WRC official
Sebastien Ogier and Sebastien Loeb, WRC official

Tyre mind games: Sebastien Loeb vs Sebastien Ogier at Rally Monte-Carlo 2022.

WRC Monte Carlo 2022 challenge is legendary in many respects. Against all expectations, the battle began between nine-time World Rally Champion Sebastian Loeb and eight-time World Rally Champion Sebastian Ogier. Both changed co-drivers, both driving brand-new hybrid cars: Puma M-Sport Ford and Toyota Yaris. The question is whether Ogier will win Monte Carlo for the ninth time in his career or Sebastian Loeb for the eighth time in his career? This is the puzzle, almost as difficult as choosing a tire in the conditions of periodic change from asphalt to ice. Moreover, in the conditions of almost equal performance between two, it becomes clear that a more unique trick is needed. So come the tire games.

The track on Saturday was tough and that was the crucial moment that could change the battle. Ogier had already decided to mix two soft tires and two snow tires on his Toyota GR Yaris. Loeb meanwhile laid his cards on the table, hoping to capitalize on the dry sections to minimize the loss of time on the ice. Sebastien fitted his Ford Puma with Pirelli’s soft asphalt compound. At the moment it was Sebastien, but Ogier changed his mind and switched to the same combination. He crossed the finish line Saturday 21.1 seconds ahead.

Winners of Rallye Monte-carlo 2022
Winners of Rallye Monte-carlo 2022: Sebastien Loeb and co-driver Isabelle Isabelle Garmisch

What did we not expect at all?

Charged Ford Puma Rally1 cars.

The cars are really fast. Winning the WRC Monte Carlo means a lot to the team after years of poor results. 2021, M-Sport was not the team that could compete for the podium. In Formula 1, for example, it is inconceivable that Williams F1 team could win the Grand Prix after years of delay. That’s the point, another reason to delight the eyes with the WRC! M-Sport Ford may have spiced up the hybrid cars with a special magic, but they are able to open a new chapter in the history of the team. While the Rally de Monte Carlo is an amazing start to the new history.

Sebastien Loeb vs Sebastien Ogier om WRC Monte Carlo 2022.

You can only see it in the FIA World Rally Championship, when the great champions became real rivals. The experience of the Sebastien Loeb – nine-time World Rally Champion against the eight-time World Rally Champion Sebastien Ogier. We watched see a real heat battle for first place. Both had to face the same circumstances: brand-new hybrid cars as well as new co-drivers. It was more than just first place, it was the battle of interest. One has to say about age – 47-year-old Sebastien Loeb versus 38-year-old Ogier. Certainly, the 2022 Monte Carlo Rally comes to the hypothesis as the most unpredictable.

Hyunday Motorsport rally team’s fall.

Although it is too early to make predictions, it is time to draw a few conclusions after the noisy winter break. Hyundai i20 N Rally1 cars did not show what rally fans wanted to see. Thierry Neuville must feel free in Monaco. The route he was supposed to finish with a win, but unfortunately he did not. He is the only Hyundai driver in the top ten – fifth in the drivers’ standings. Maybe the resignation of team boss Andrea Adamo or simply brave drivers need time to get used to new hybrids, but these results are poor.

Toyota Gazoo Racing continues to push.

What could do Toyota Gazoo racing team boss Yari-Matti Latvala after his noisy victory in the manufacturers’ championship in his first year in the new role? Maybe to rest a bit, but not. All his drivers race on A-class driving experiences. Elfyn Evans, Takamoto Katsuta and Kalle Rovanpera simply need the time to get used to new hybrid cars.

World Rally Champioship, drivers standings
World Rally Champioship, drivers standings

The unexpected Craig Breen begins the new story.

No matter how fast the new Puma Ford Rally1 cars were, Craig Breen ran with a huge surprise. He finished the WRC Monte Carlo 2022 in third place! After the not entirely successful WRC season 2021 at Hyundai Motorsport such a start is an opportunity for Breen to reclaim the place he deserves. Like all Ford M-Sport rally drivers, Craig Breen has an incredible hunger for victory.

Probably this is the most characteristic feature of the Ford WRC driver line-up. Hungry for victories, they are ready to use all their knowledge available to push the limit. Well, purple pumas are ready to help them.