Ogier draws level with Loeb on dramatic SS10

Stage win #4 for Ogier, but action was further up start order as Solberg went off and Greensmith and Neuville hit trouble


Sébastien Ogier drew level with Sébastien Loeb for the lead of the Monte Carlo Rally on a dramatic Saint-Jeannet – Malijai stage where Oliver Solberg went off the road and Thierry Neuville and Gus Greensmith both ran into problems.

On SS10, Saturday’s second test, Solberg simply looked to be caught out under braking for a tightening right-hand corner and nosed off the edge of the road and softly down a bank, wedged in by some trees.

His Hyundai looked virtually undamaged despite being stuck down a steep bank. Solberg and Edmondson did however manage to free themselves and completed the stage.

“Its been a bad all morning, we didn’t need this,” Solberg said.


He had endured a very difficult event prior to his incident. Running 10th overall, Solberg struggled with various issues but among his key troubles were not being able to hear co-driver Elliott Edmondson properly and smoke infiltrating the cockpit of his i20 N Rally1.

Greensmith, who claimed his first World Rally Championship stage win on Friday, is still running but lost well over a minute and a half and therefore slipped from sixth to ninth – last of the Rally1 runners – due to myriad issues in his Ford Puma Rally1 on SS10.

Very early on Greensmith reported to co-driver Jonas Andersson that he had “a misfire” and backed his pace off as a result, but he then began to travel even slower as his rear-right tire began to deflate.


Asked where and how he got the puncture, Greensmith said: “I don’t know.

“We had a problem at the start anyway so I think that’s more of an issue than the puncture.”

Neuville was the highest placed overall of those who hit trouble on SS10, but immediately looked to be in trouble when he entered the stage one minute late, and therefore copped a 10s time penalty.

He then dropped a further 13.6s to Craig Breen’s M-Sport Ford Puma Rally1 and fell to fifth position, 11.1s behind. But that appeared to be the least of his problems.

“We are fighting with some issues and now something broke in the stage, the car is driving to one side and it’s over,” Neuville said.

Breen meanwhile enjoyed the first split of Saint-Jeannet / Malijai in particular; the bumpy, crest-filled section reminding him of rallying back home in Ireland.

“We could’ve been there in August, it would’ve been so nice,” said Breen, staring down the camera, referring to Northern Ireland’s unsuccessful attempt to join the WRC calendar.

Out front, despite looking unhappy when he crossed the finish-line, Ogier beat Loeb by 6.5s to share the lead of the rally after 10 stages.

Before learning he now shared the lead, Ogier did not give anything away as to his annoyance at stage-end, commenting: “I think it was not a bad stage for us, it’s a beautiful stage to be honest, a very nice rally stage.”

Loeb, who has taken two super-softs in his package as opposed to Ogier’s one, added: “I had a good stage but I think this kind of stage is so slippery and so rough the two super-softs didn’t help.

“It seems this morning the stages are not for me, so we’ll see in the next one.”

Kalle Rovanperä moved ahead of Ott Tänak into eighth overall – the pair sharing the position before SS10 – with another impressive stage time.

Tänak had a puncture on SS9 and therefore needed to drive with caution as he only elected to carry one spare tire in his i20 N Rally1, meaning he does not have one anymore.

All crews must have four fully rotating wheels on their car on road sections in order to avoid exclusion; something Tänak knows to his cost, having received a suspended ban for driving back to service last year with just three rotating wheels.

His 10.6s time loss to Rovanperä therefore made complete sense.

“There’s a lot of loose stones on this one, many cuts and quite big stones, so I was just driving through and keep four wheels on the car,” Tänak said.

Takamoto Katsuta is now just 7.3s ahead of Rovanperä after dropping 24s on SS10, predominantly caused by a “quite stupid” half-spin and stall that left Katsuta “quite frustrated”.

Stéphane Lefebvre, who had led WRC2 before earning a 30-minute penalty for an infringement by his route note crew, ran into more terminal trouble on SS10 as he spun his Citroën C3 Rally2 and ripped the rear-left wheel off.

SS10 times

1 Sébastien Ogier/Benjamin Veillas (Toyota) 9m26.4s
2 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota) +1.1s
3 Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota) +5.2s
4 Sébastien Loeb/Isabelle Galmiche (M-Sport Ford) +6.5s
5 Craig Breen/Paul Nagle (M-Sport Ford) +11.1s
6 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Hyundai) +15.8s

Leading positions after SS10

1= Ogier/Veillas (Toyota) 1h41m42s
1= Loeb/Galmiche (M-Sport Ford) 1h41m42s
3 Evans/Martin (Toyota) +9.3s
4 Breen/Nagle (M-Sport Ford) +1m02.6s
5 Thierry Neuville/Martijn Waydaeghe (Hyundai) +1m13.7s
6 Takamoto Katsuta/Aaron Johnston (Toyota) +1m57.6s
8 Rovanperä/Halttunen (Toyota) +2m04.9s
7 Tänak/Järveoja (Hyundai) +2m15.5s
9 Gus Greensmith/Jonas Andersson (M-Sport Ford) +2m43.7s
10 Andreas Mikkelsen/Torstein Eriksen (Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo) +5m30.5s