Ogier eases to Monte Carlo victory, Latvala handed suspended ban


Sebastien Ogier eased to a predictable victory in the Monte Carlo Rally, while Volkswagen team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala received a suspended ban after hitting a spectator on the previous day.

Ogier, who is seeking a fourth successive world title, was all but guaranteed to triumph in the season's opening race after rivals Kris Meeke and Latvala retired on Saturday.

And the reigning champion duly triumphed in two of Sunday's three remaining stages to finish one minute 54.5 seconds clear of Andreas Mikkelsen (Volkswagen), with Hyundai's Thierry Neuville a distant third after limping through the final stage with transmission problems.

Latvala, meanwhile, was sanctioned by race stewards following a review of an incident that ultimately forced him to retire on stage 11.

The Finn knocked a spectator to the ground as he sought to rejoin the course after crashing through a ditch, later apologising for the incident and citing a lack of visibility.

However, the stewards concluded: "It is not plausible that the crew did not even consider the possibility that they had hit a spectator. In such a situation, it would have been the obligation of the crew to stop at the venue of the incident and check if a spectator was affected."

Latvala and co-driver Miikka Anttila have been jointly fined EUR5,000, while a suspended one-rally ban will be in place for the remainder of the 2016 season and come immediately into effect should the driver commit a similar infringement.

In contrast, there was only joy for Ogier as he reflected on the ideal start to his title defence.

"It's fantastic," the Frenchman said. "This rally is the most important of the season for me. It's so emotional to be able to do it here in Monte Carlo. I'm very happy.

"The car was perfect, I'm so happy to take this win for Volkswagen."