Sebastien Ogier took the lead from Toyota’s teammate Elfyn Evans at the Monte Carlo Rally on the third day of the opening round of this year’s World Rally Championship.
After Friday’s action, Ogier lost 30 minutes after a flat tire on the penultimate stage of the day, but quickly regained 16 seconds from Evans before stopping overnight.
After resuming in the dark to comply with local COVID-19 law, Ogier resumed his arrogant progress at the opening of the 18.3km Labreol-Salon Net Stage.
The French crossed the line 17.8 seconds faster than Welshman and 20 seconds faster than anyone else in the rally.
It was a master class, and even French people, usually like business, were struck by the adrenaline running long after clearing the end of the stage.
With Ogier leading Evans and Carrero Vampera’s third Yaris WRC, Toyota’s grasp of the event was further strengthened by a disastrous stage for the closest challenger, 2019 WRC Driver’s Champion Ott Tänak Hyundai.
The Estonians were terribly hanging on Friday’s stage, but Saturday’s run started with a spin, followed by a puncture, and he rushed down the order.
The dawn was broken before the start of the second stage of the day, the 20.48 km Saint Clemens-Frisinière test. Thierry Neuville cheered on the embarrassed Hyundai team by firing on the victory in the first stage of the event.
Last year’s Monte winner was struggling throughout the opening day as he and the newly installed co-driver Martin Widege tried to find a business relationship.
However, in Stage 10, Neuville set a time 42.2 seconds faster than Ogier, closing the third-placed Carrero Vampera Toyota in the overall ranking.
The good cheers that Neuville’s stage victory brought to Hyundai were quickly softened by seeing Tanak blow off another tire and stop on stage. The Estonian event has ended because he was already using the only spare on his i20WRC.
After a short service break, the crew returned to Labreol-Salonnet for the final stages of the day, where Toyota again claimed their authority. This time Evans was the winner in just 1.3 seconds from Ogier, but it was enough to support Welshman.
“I really needed it,” Evans said. “It was a little frustrating day, it’s just not really, really money … we keep putting pressure on it!”
Ogier is unwavering and holds the advantage of 13.0 seconds as the team prepares for the four stages of the final day.
“The conditions have changed so much from the first pass, and even after the gravel crew passed, so it was just a few of what we were looking for and trusting,” he said. “But it was a clean drive for me.”
Neuville’s shimmering appearance did not last until the final stages of the day, and this bought Rovanperä some breathing space with an overnight stop, with a 7-second gap between them.
“I had a problem with my earplugs, so Johnne [co-driver Jonne Halttunen], I always had to scream so that I could hear the notes, “Rovanpera explained.
“It may not have been very comfortable at first because I couldn’t hear it well, but once I got used to the results, it was okay.”
The final podium battle is more than a minute away from fifth-placed Dani Sordo on the third Hyundai wheel.
The Spaniards struggled on Friday, but on Saturday morning his pace improved dramatically and he suffered again on the final stage of the day.
“I was very late,” he said after setting the 15th fastest time on the final stage.
“The only way is to be a little slower than before, as we have to carry the two cars to the end of the rally, which was very bad.”
At WRC2, the day gave veteran Andreas Mikkelsen even more time. Andreas Mikkelsen had an advantage of 2 minutes and 14 seconds over Adrian Fulmo’s M-Sport Ford, with Oliver Solberg third to Hyundai.
“We drive comfortably again and in very tricky conditions, but my information is really accurate. I have the best gravel crew in the world.” Mikkelsen was enthusiastic.
At the WRC3, Yoann Bonato continued to lead Yoann Bonato and Nicholas Siamine, and had a solid day.
Top position of Rally Monte Carlo after stage 11
|1||RC1||Sebastien Ogier, J.Ingracia||Toyota Gazu Racing WRT||2 hours 16 minutes 31.9 seconds|
|2||RC1||Elfyn Evans, S.Martin||Toyota Gazu Racing WRT||13.0 seconds|
|3||RC1||Kalle Rovanpera, J.Hart tune||56.8 seconds|
|Four||RC1||Thierry Neuville, M. Wydaeghe||Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT||1 minute 03.8 seconds|
|Five||RC1||Dani Sordo, C.Del Barrio||Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT||2 minutes 11.3 seconds|
|6||RC1||Takamoto Katsuta, D.Ballit||Toyota Gazu Racing WRT||4 minutes 43.1 seconds|
|7||WRC2||Andreas Mikkelsen, O.Floene||Toksport WRT||5 minutes 22.7 seconds|
|8||RC1||Gus Greensmith, E.Edmondson||M-Sport Ford WRT||6 minutes 14.6 seconds|
|9||WRC2||Adrien Fourmaux, R. Jamoul||M-Sport Ford WRT||7 minutes 36.5 seconds|
|Ten||WRC2||Eric Kamiri, FX.Buresi||Sports & you||7 minutes 54.1 seconds|
|11||WRC2||Oliver Solberg, A.Johnston||Hyundai Motorsport N||8 minutes 47.3 seconds|
|12||WRC2||Nikolai Gryazin, K.Alexandrov||Movisport SRL||10 minutes 47.3 seconds|
|13||RC1||Pierre-Louis Roubeix, V.Randai||Hyundai 2C Competition||14 minutes 42.8 seconds|
WRC Monte Carlo: Ogier takes command on day 3 from Evans | WRC News
https://www.autosport.com/wrc/news/154718/ogier-takes-command-of-rally-monte-carlo-from-evans WRC Monte Carlo: Ogier takes command on day 3 from Evans | WRC News