Ott Tänak got the 2019 FIA World Rally Championship season off to a flying start for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team, winning tonight’s opening stage at Rallye Monte-Carlo and then extending his lead in the evening’s second and final test. Jari-Matti Latvala is fifth overall while Kris Meeke is seventh, having been second fastest in his debut stage in the Toyota Yaris WRC before sustaining a time-consuming puncture.
The day began with the shakedown stage held close to the service park in Gap. The dry and sunny conditions were always unlikely to be representative of those that would be found in tonight’s opening stages, but the shakedown provided a good opportunity for the drivers to ease themselves back into action. Meeke posted the fastest time, with Tänak fourth and Latvala fifth.
Tonight’s two stages – each just over 20 kilometres in length – featured typical Rallye Monte-Carlo conditions, with sections of ice and snow as well as drier parts. Tänak was fastest by five seconds ahead of Meeke in the opening stage, and was third-quickest in stage two to lead by 9.1s overnight.
Tommi Mäkinen (Team Principal)
“It was a brilliant first stage tonight for both Ott and Kris with the two fastest times. I think Ott has taken a lot of confidence from that. Unfortunately, Kris then had a puncture, but I think he is also feeling very good with his new car. Jari-Matti was a little bit careful, but the conditions in the dark were very tricky. There is a long way to go and tomorrow will be a difficult day. It is always far easier to take on these stages in the daylight.”
Ott Tänak (Driver car 8)
“It was a tough start to the rally tonight, as we were expecting. There were some extremely tricky and changeable conditions on the first stage, but I had a really good feeling in the car. It was still quite easy to feel the grip changes and this gave me good confidence. The second one was mostly dry asphalt which was a challenge with a mix of tyres, but we had a good run. Overall I still think our tyre choice was the right one. Tomorrow will be a long day and we will be expecting more of the usual Monte challenges.”
Jari-Matti Latvala (Driver car 10)
“It was very challenging conditions this evening, in the darkness with a mix of ice and damp patches. When the conditions are difficult like this the time differences can be quite big. In the first stage I lost a lot of time as I wasn’t that confident. I didn’t have those type of conditions in my test, so I was missing the feeling. But we got through and that’s the most important thing. Tomorrow is another day and things can change very quickly in this event, so we need to be patient.”
Kris Meeke (Driver car 5)
“It was a tricky start to the rally with changing conditions, but I felt really confident with the car, I had a good feeling. On the second stage it was drier but it still felt nice to drive. Then for some reason we got a puncture. I don't believe we hit anything. But we can’t let that get us down so early on a Rallye Monte-Carlo. I’m enjoying it and I’m confident in the car, so let’s see what the rest of the weekend brings.”
End of day one (Thursday):
1 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 26m33.0s
2 Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) +9.1s
3 Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +14.3s
4 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Citroën C3 WRC) +45.2s
5 Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +46.4s
6 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Ford Fiesta WRC) +48.2s
7 Kris Meeke/Seb Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +53.8s
8 Sebastien Loeb/Daniel Elena (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +55.2s
9 Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jaeger (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +59.6s
10 Pontus Tidemand/Ola Floene (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1m41.1s
(Results as of 22:30 on Thursday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)
The first full day of Rallye Monte-Carlo consists of two loops of three stages, either side of a mid-day service in Gap. At 125.12 kilometres, it will be the longest day of the rally.
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