All three of the TOYOTA GAZOO World Rally Team drivers made it through a hugely challenging start to the 2018 FIA World Rally Championship season on Rallye Monte-Carlo. After two long stages in the darkness with icy conditions, Esapekka Lappi is the lead Yaris WRC driver in fourth position, just ahead of his two team-mates Ott Tänak and Jari-Matti Latvala.
After a ceremonial start in the glamourous surroundings of the Place du Casino in Monaco, the crews faced two night-time stages on their way back to the service park in Gap. Unusually, the first stage of the rally, the famed Sisteron test, was also the longest at 36.69 kilometres. Contesting the rally for the first time in a World Rally Car, Lappi handled the test particularly well with the third best time. Tänak and Latvala were among many drivers to suffer drama, with Tänak hitting a bank and Latvala spinning twice, but they still recorded the sixth and seventh best times. Tänak was then third on stage two, with Latvala fifth and Lappi in seventh.
Tommi Mäkinen (Team Principal)
“As predicted, the Sisteron stage was a dramatic one for all of the drivers. To do that kind of stage as the first stage in the dark was really one of the most difficult ways to begin the season. I’m glad that I wasn’t behind the wheel! Our drivers made it back to service in a good position, and tomorrow is likely to be very different.”
Jari-Matti Latvala (Driver car 7)
“It was a bit of a nervous feeling at the start of the first stage, wondering how it would be with the icy conditions. At first it went really well, but I later spun twice and stalled the car. After that I was driving quite frustrated. We lost quite a bit of time but we got through it. It was a relief to hear that I wasn't the only one to have some drama. On the second stage I was a bit too cautious in some places but the time was OK and I’m now looking forward to tomorrow.”
Ott Tänak (Driver car 8)
“That was quite a proper start to Rallye Monte-Carlo: it was already very tricky. In the first stage the first kilometres were quite dry but after this it was like a proper sheet ice. In one icy place I got caught out: the front left tyre just hooked in the snow bank and it was just sliding and pulling in so I had to stop and reverse to continue. I was a bit lucky there. Our tyre choice was maybe a little bit too brave. For the second stage we made some suspension changes and the tyres were working better, so it was a lot more enjoyable. Tomorrow there will be maybe a bit more rain, so we need to have a look at the information and get the set-up right.”
Esapekka Lappi (Driver car 9)
“I’m quite surprised to see the results to be honest. The first stage was difficult but it seemed to go quite well. On the second one I knew I would lose time because I didn’t do it last year, whereas the other guys know the stage already. I was also a bit too careful with the cuts: there was a lot of dirt already and I was just missing the confidence a little in these dirty places. I’m pretty pleased with the start of the rally and plan to continue the same way tomorrow.”
End of Day 1 (Thursday):
1 Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) 38m09.8s
2 Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jaeger (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +17.3s
3 Dani Sordo/Marc Marti (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +25.6s
4 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) +37.4s
5 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +42.4s
6 Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +55.4s
7 Craig Breen/Scott Martin (Citroen C3 WRC) +1m02.3s
8 Bryan Bouffier/Xavier Panseri (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1m51.0s
9 Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle (Citroen C3 WRC) +2m12.7s
10 Eric Camilli/Benjamin Veillas (Ford Fiesta R5) +2m42.2s
(Results as of 01:00 on Friday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)
Tomorrow is made up of two loops of three stages, totalling 144.88 kilometres. The Roussieux-Eygalayes stage is the longest test of the day, at 30.54 kilometres. The first car will leave service in Gap at 08:18 in the morning.
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