Volkswagen and Sebastien Ogier were an all-conquering combo in the WRC. Together they won four consecutive drivers and manufacturers titles, and no one else – rivals and even VW’s other pairings – had a look at the top prize. The German giant’s shock exit from top level rallying late last year was the perfect opportunity for Ogier to state his importance in the partnership – that it was more him than the car.

That point was underlined in bold as the Frenchman won his fourth consecutive Monte Carlo Rally over the weekend. Same guy, same Red Bull livery, different car. This time, Ogier did it in the Ford Fiesta WRC for the M-Sport World Rally Team. It was a dream debut for the defending champ; and with him onboard, winning is something M-Sport must now get used to again – the last time the British team was on the top step of the podium was in November 2012!

Ogier and M-Sport aside, it was also a good weekend for Toyota – making a WRC comeback after a 17-year absence – as Jari-Matti Latvala finished second in a Yaris WRC. Final day engine problems for Ott Tänak denied M-Sport a one-two as he slipped to third.

Ogier took the lead late on Saturday’s penultimate leg when event-long leader Thierry Neuville broke his Hyundai i20 Coupe’s suspension after an impact. With a comfortable gap, Seb took no risks through the final snow-hit speed test over the famous Col de Turini and guided the Ford home safely.

“Obviously I feel really great. It always feels good to win at Rallye Monte Carlo, but this year we had one of the most difficult challenges we have ever had. We had to contend with some really demanding conditions and also had a new car and a new team – it’s really incredible,” Seb said.

“We joined the team only a month ago and have only had a couple of days in the car so far. Of course we know that anything can happen at this event, but I really thought that we would be lacking the necessary preparation to challenge for victory this weekend.

“To be here now, on the top-step of the podium, I’m very happy and so happy for the whole team who really deserve this. We could never have won if they had not given us a good car, so congratulations to them,” the champ added.

Latvala struggled to find a good rhythm initially but changes to his car’s set-up revitalised the Finn. Third overnight became second when Ott Tänak dropped time with a broken ignition coil pack in his Fiesta and Latvala sped by. With no service, Estonian Tänak worked furiously to make repairs and did enough to hold onto third, fending off Dani Sordo’s Hyundai with a spirited downhill drive to the finish on the last special stage in falling snow.

Craig Breen finished fifth in a Citroen DS3 with Elfyn Evans completing the top six in another Fiesta. The Welshman won three stages on Saturday to offset a disappointing start when he dropped several minutes in snow and ice.

WRC 2 winner Andreas Mikkelsen was seventh ahead of team-mate Jan Kopecký, while Stéphane Lefebvre continued his recovery from a broken clutch on the opening day to climb to ninth in a C3. Bryan Bouffier completed the leaderboard in a Fiesta R5.

Tough luck for Hyundai and Neuville, who eventually finished 15th and gained maximum bonus points after winning the final Power Stage. Kris Meeke did not restart after his C3 suffered broken suspension following a collision with a non-competing car on the liaison section to Monaco on Saturday night.

More snow and ice in the next round of the WRC, which is Rally Sweden in February.