Monte Carlo, Monaco - Sebastien Ogier has won the Monte Carlo rally on his M-Sport debut, holding on to the lead on Sunday after rival Thierry Neuville suffered a mechanical problem on the penultimate day.
Four-times world champion Ogier beat Jari-Matti Latvala by 2m15s as the Finn gave Toyota a podium finish on its return to the World Rally Championship after a 17-year absence, on icy roads in the French Alps.
M-Sport was denied a 1-2 finish when Estonian Ott Tanak slipped from second after suffering an engine problem on Sunday. Tanak finished third, 2m57.8s off the pace.
"I was hoping for a win," said Ogier after his 39th career win, "but to do it in the first round after only one month with so little preparation, it's incredible.
"I can assure you the conditions did not make things easy. It was tough to be the first out on to the snow on Friday."
Ogier surged into the lead at the Monte Carlo Rally after overnight pacesetter Thierry Neuville lost considerable time because of a mechanical problem in Saturday's 13th and final stage.
The four-times French world champion, who was trailing by 51 seconds before the 13th stage, moved to the top of the standings with a 47.1 second advantage over Tanak.
Neuville was forced to stop midway through the final stage on Saturday, in order to repair a damaged rear suspension on his Hyundai. By the time he was back on the road, he had lost almost 33 minutes to stage winner Elfyn Evans of Britain.
Neuville dropped to 15th, 32m04.7s behind Ogier.
Ogier, who joined M-Sport in December after Volkswagen withdrew from the sport, is looking to become the second driver to win five or more World Rally Championship titles after his compatriot Sebastien Loeb clinched a record nine consecutive titles from 2004-12.
The second round of the series will be run in Sweden from 9-12 February.
1 Sebastien Ogier (France) - Ford 4h00m03.6s
2 Jari-Matti Latvala (Finland) Toyota +2m15.0s
3 Ott Taenak (Estonia) Ford +2m57.8s
4 Daniel Sordo (Spain) Hyundai +3m35.8s
5 Craig Breen (Ireland) Citroen +3m47.8s
6 Elfyn Evans (Britain) Ford +6m45.0s
7 Andreas Mikkelsen (Norway) Skoda +9m02.7
8 Jan Kopecky (Czech Republic) Skoda +12m58.1s
9 Stephane Lefebvre (France) Citroen +14m43.8s
10 Bryan Bouffier (France) Ford +16m09.4s