The French driver Sebastien Ogier successfully defended his Monte Carlo Rally title, winning the opening round of the world championship with a masterful display in the snow and ice of the French Alps.
The double world champion Ogier, who saw off an initial challenge from returning great, ten-times Monte Carlo winner Sebastien Loeb, eventually cruised home to win by 58 seconds from Finnish team mate Jari-Matti Latvala.
Driving a Volkswagen in the difficult, slippery conditions over the rally's four testing days, Ogier led home Latvala and Norway's Andreas Mikkelsen, as the trio secured a podium sweep for the German manufacturer.
Ogier prevailed after some tremendous early battles with his illustrious compatriot Loeb, making a one-off appearance after a 15-month absence, over the first seven special stages, until the nine-time world champion hit a rock and broke his Citroen's rear suspension.
Ogier, who is hunting a third consecutive global crown, held a 43-second lead going into the final day and, though controlling his pace with safe tyre choices, still extended his lead to seal his third Monte Carlo triumph.
The New Zealander Hayden Paddon didn't compete in the Monte Carlo rally but will be driving in Sweden next month.