Gap - Sebastien Ogier began his campaign for a sixth world
rally title in style on Thursday when he swept the first two stages of the
season-opening Rally of Monte Carlo.
The 34-year-old French driver, who has won the iconic race
on five occasions, overcame a spin in the early stages to lap up the challenges
posed by the icy asphalt course in the mountains above the principality behind
the wheel of his M-Sport Ford.
He was 17.3sec ahead of Norway's Andreas Mikkelsen and
25.6sec in front of Spain's Dani Sordo.
"We lost some time with a spin on the ice," said
Ogier after a dramatic spin on the opening stage.
"We knew it would be tricky, and it's no surprise that
many drivers have had issues in there. It's still tricky but I am happy with
the way things have started."
He added: "Before the spin I was right in the middle of
the road doing 10kph. Luckily I managed to rotate the car and stay on the road.
The information we got from the ice note crew was correct.
"There were a lot of dirty sections in the second one
too. Some small things to improve but not a bad start. Same conditions for
Thierry Neuville, in the third Hyundai and who was runner-up
in the 2017 world championship, was down in fourth spot, a huge 4min 18.2sec
off the lead after getting stuck in snow on the first stage.
His car slipped off the track and he had to be helped back
onto the road by spectators.