Four-time world champion Sebastien Ogier set the fastest time in the shakedown for Rally Monte Carlo as the Frenchman makes his M-Sport Ford debut.

The 33-year-old set a time 4.2 seconds faster than anyone else on the short 3.35km pre-event stage.

Former Volkswagen teammate Andreas Mikkelsen was the second quickest in a WRC2-spec Skoda Fabia. Ogier's new M-Sport teammate Ott Tanak was third fastest while Jari-Matti Latvala gave the new Toyota Gazoo team a boost with the fourth fastest time.

The Hyundai i20s of Kiwi Hayden Paddon and Dani Sordo completed the top six.


The stage was mainly dry but the forecast for the start of the rally tomorrow is for ice and snow.

"I was happy with how our shakedown went but I know it will be a tough rally ahead," said Latvala.

"I don't think I have ever seen so much snow and ice on a Monte-Carlo recce before. It's a very nice feeling to finally get the season underway now after so much hard work and anticipation.

"For the final runs of shakedown, we were driving in conditions where it was getting dark, which hopefully can help to prepare us for the two night stages tomorrow, where I think it will be very slippery."

Citroen's Kris Meeke was tipped as a real threat to win the championship this year with speculation that the new-look Citroen C3 might be a fast car but the French manufacturer was nowhere to be seen during Thursday's shakedown.

"The shakedown wasn't very interesting because of our tyre choice," said the Northern Irishman.

"There was no chance of going for performance on slicks in these conditions. But we were able to make sure that the car was working properly.

"Tomorrow, it will be a whole new ball game with the leg between Monaco and Gap. I'm expecting it to be a tricky start to the rally, but I'm really looking forward to it."