The TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team is in a great position going into the final day of Rallye Monte-Carlo, the opening round of the 2018 FIA World Rally Championship season. All three Yaris WRCs are inside the top four places: Ott Tänak continues to impress on his debut with the team in second place, Jari-Matti Latvala has joined him on the provisional podium and Esapekka Lappi is fourth.
The crews faced typical Rallye Monte-Carlo conditions this morning, with the opening stage in particular covered in snow. Here, Tänak lost some time in his pursuit of the rally leader but he bounced back to win the following stage despite a damper problem. The TOYOTA mechanics resolved this in service and Tänak set another fastest time on SS11, going 15.3 seconds faster than anybody else despite being one of several drivers to take an unplanned diversion through a field. After setting the second-best time on SS12, he finished the day 33.5s from the rally lead.
Latvala used his experience to excel in the tricky conditions on SS9 and climb up from fifth to third overall: a position he holds by more than three minutes overnight. Lappi lost touch with his team-mate after needing to change a tyre on SS11, but after some quick times on the following two stages, he is on course for a fine top-four finish in what is his first Rallye Monte-Carlo driving a World Rally Car.
Kaj Lindström (Sporting Director)
“In short, it has been a very good day. All the drivers did a really good job in extremely difficult conditions in the morning. Even though Esapekka had a puncture and lost a lot of time, he still managed to fight back to fourth place and I think that’s a really good sign that he can keep calm in these situations. Ott of course has been very quick again, and Jari-Matti is also driving well. Tomorrow I think the only question mark will be the weather but of course the rally isn’t over until the final time control.”
Jari-Matti Latvala (Driver car 7)
“Today has been typical Rallye Monte-Carlo weather: it has been like having all the seasons in one day, with rain and snow this morning while this afternoon it was sunny and with dry roads. I’m happy to be where we are: I said before the race a top-three would be perfect. I can’t really go forward and there’s a pretty big gap behind me, so now I’m just focusing on my own driving. My target in this event has been to avoid taking big risks and to see the finish: this is very important.”
Ott Tänak (Driver car 8)
“It has been another very strong day from our side, from the team’s side and I’m very much enjoying driving this car. It was a bit of a shame about the first stage in the snow – we lost a lot of time there – but after that it went really well again. I’m just trying to maintain my own pace, to feel comfortable and to be clever and stay on the road. For sure I will not risk my position. For the first rally it would be very nice to finish like this. It’s looking very good for the team. Already before the season we knew that we had good drivers and it’s clear that the car is competitive.”
Esapekka Lappi (Driver car 9)
“It’s a shame that I lost a lot time today, but we are still in fourth. On a fairly slow left-hand corner, there was a lot of slushy snow and I just slid wide, hit a bank and the rear tyre came off from the wheel. It had been a clean run for us up until that moment, and plenty of other drivers had already made mistakes before that. It will be tough to try and keep fourth but tomorrow should suit me if it stays dry. On the last stage today the car felt really good and I have always been good when the grip is consistent and I know where the limit is.”
End of Day 3 (Saturday):
1 Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) 3h30m30.9s
2 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +33.5s
3 Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1m32.7s
4 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) +4m38.5s
5 Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle (Citroen C3 WRC) +4m40.1s
6 Elfyn Evans/Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) +5m00.2s
7 Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +5m33.6s
8 Bryan Bouffier/Xavier Panseri (Ford Fiesta WRC) +5m43.4s
9 Craig Breen/Scott Martin (Citroen C3 WRC) +8m49.0s
10 Jan Kopecky/Pavel Dresler (Skoda Fabia R5) +14m04.4s
(Results as of 17:00 on Saturday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)
This evening, the crews are driving their cars down to Monte Carlo ready for the final day of the rally. This will consist of two stages each run twice: La Bollene Vesubie-Peira Cava features the legendary Col de Turini where huge crowds will gather to witness the cars pass the summit, while La Cabanette-Col de Braus will host the rally-ending Power Stage before the finish back in Monaco.
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