Eight-time world champion Ogier chasing record 10th Monte Carlo win as new season starts

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Eight-time world champion Ogier chasing record 10th Monte Carlo win as new season starts
Sebastien Ogier and co-driver Benjamin Veillas in action in 2022
Sebastien Ogier and co-driver Benjamin Veillas in action in 2022
Reuters
Eight-time world rally champion Sebastien Ogier (40) is still hungry for success, even as a Toyota part-timer, as he starts a new season chasing a record-extending 10th Monte Carlo Rally win this weekend.

The oldest and most evocative round of the championship is based in the south-eastern town of Gap, the 40-year-old French driver's birthplace, and he knows the treacherous mountain roads as well as anyone.

"Numbers are never my main motivation, but if I could get a 10th win on this event it would be something very special," last year's winner said in the build-up to an asphalt rally notorious for ice and snow.

"I think it’s the rally that you need to respect more than any other as the conditions can be so challenging, which means that nothing is guaranteed."

Teammate and reigning champion Kalle Rovanpera is taking time out this season, driving selected events, with Welshman Elfyn Evans Toyota's main title contender after finishing overall runner-up three times in the past four years.

Evans has yet to win in Monte Carlo, finishing second in 2021.

Estonia's Ott Tanak, returning to Hyundai after a year away at M-Sport Ford, led the way in Wednesday's short and dry shakedown ahead of Evans and Hyundai's Thierry Neuville with Ogier fourth.

"It’s always a difficult challenge," commented Tanak.

"Even if I've been here before, it's still a little bit unknown."

The big change in the championship for this season is a new scoring system aimed at providing more excitement on the final day.

Points will now be allocated at the end of Saturday's action on a scale of 18-15-13-10-8-6-4-3-2-1 and providing the crews complete the rally on Sunday, with the final day providing more points on a 7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis.

The final Power Stage offers up to a further five bonus points.

The rally proper starts with two evening stages on Thursday, with three stages run twice each on Friday and again on Saturday before the finish on Sunday and official prize-giving in Monaco's Casino Square.

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