Monte Carlo rally winner Sébastien Ogier admits Kris Meeke’s attacking drive meant he could never afford to relax at the head of the leaderboard.
The pair swapped places at the top of the standings on several occasions during the opening two legs. Although Ogier built a lead of almost 30 seconds on Sunday before Meeke’s retirement, the Frenchman said the margin never allowed him to feel safe.
“In normal Tarmac conditions, if you have a 30-second lead, then it’s a big gap and it’s hard to catch, so you can seriously start to think about the victory. But in Monte Carlo, a wrong tire choice or if your rival takes more risks in an icy section, then the 30 seconds [lead]are gone,” he said.
“It’s a rally where you need a big gap to really start to relax. With a 30-second lead, I was thinking I was in a good position, it was definitely better to be where I was than where Kris was. But still I knew I had to drive good,” he added.
Meeke’s early exit with a damaged gearbox after hitting a rock left Ogier with a lead of almost two minutes and the Volkswagen Polo R pilot cruised through the final day to complete his fourth Monte win, and his third in a row.
“Kris was really doing a great job. He was really on a strong pace and every time I relaxed or took it a little bit more careful on one stage that was tricky, he immediately took back some time again,” Ogier said.
“It was exciting and it was a shame we couldn’t fight to the end of the rally. It was purely bad luck what happened to him. On the other hand, I could then control the race and take things a little bit more easily on the last day,” he added.