Jari-Matti Latvala is the best-placed of the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team drivers tonight following the first full day of competition on Rallye Monte-Carlo, which proved to be a challenging one for the team. Latvala is in fourth overall, and in an exciting battle for a podium place with two whole days of action remaining. His team-mates Ott Tänak and Kris Meeke are seventh and eighth after both had to stop to change a wheel.
Six stages were due to be run today, although the opening test was cancelled on spectator safety grounds. As a consequence, the Toyota drivers were left with an unfavourable tyre selection for the remainder of the loop, having based their choices on the wintery conditions that were present in the morning’s first stage. This led to Tänak conceding the lead he claimed in Thursday night’s opening action. He was holding third overall before losing more than a minute and a half when he stopped on SS7.
Latvala gradually built his confidence, climbing from ninth overall to fourth, and set the joint fastest time on SS6. He is 7.4 seconds away from third place. Meeke was also gaining positions on his debut in the Toyota Yaris WRC, moving up to sixth before he also lost time on SS7.
Tommi Mäkinen (Team Principal)
“Rallye Monte-Carlo always brings surprises and unfortunately we have suffered from a few of those today, particularly with the punctures for Ott and for Kris. The frozen ground here this year is allowing all the cars to cut the corners more, and the sharp edges of the road can cause problems like this. It’s unfortunate because Ott was in a podium position and Kris has been making a really good start with us. I’m sure there is more to come from him as he continues to learn the car – just like we saw with Ott last year. Jari-Matti is very much still in the fight and let’s see what happens tomorrow.”
Ott Tänak (Driver car 8)
“It has generally been quite a challenging day. This morning our strategy was based mainly on the first stage, so the cancellation meant that we no longer had a good tyre choice for the loop. This afternoon, the first stage was quite tricky with a mix of snow, slush, and dry road. Then on the next one we had a puncture, so we had to stop and change the tyre. The last stage was more of a consistent run for us. There is still a long way to go and we will do everything we can.”
Jari-Matti Latvala (Driver car 10)
“Overall, I must say it was quite a positive day. I think we had a good strategy for this morning, but when they cancelled the first stage it affected us quite significantly. Still, I started to get a good feeling with the driving. This afternoon we played it safe and ran with four snow tyres on two of the stages. On SS7 we had a mix of tyres and I was maybe a bit too careful, but SS6 and SS8 on the snow tyres both went well and in general I’m happy. It’s good to be in the fight for the third place on the podium.”
Kris Meeke (Driver car 5)
“Our road position today was not ideal – the drivers ahead were pulling lots of mud out onto the road, which was making it very slippery for me – but we could still set some good times and gain some positions. Unfortunately, we then had the damaged wheel and we had to stop and change it. Nonetheless, I am really enjoying the driving after nine months away, and with a bit more luck we could be sitting in a podium place. Now we’re relying on others having problems, but we’re looking forward to what’s to come.”
End of day two (Friday):
1 Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) 1h37m17.3s
2 Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +2.0s
3 Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jaeger-Amland (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1m17.7s
4 Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1m25.1s
5 Sebastien Loeb/Daniel Elena (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1m25.9s
6 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1m47.5s
7 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +2m34.9s
8 Kris Meeke/Seb Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +5m33.0s
9 Gus Greensmith/Elliott Edmondson (Ford Fiesta R5) +7m00.1s
10 Yoann Bonato/Benjamin Boulloud (Citroën C3 R5) +7m06.7s
(Results as of 19:00 on Friday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)
Tomorrow the crews tackle a pair of stages north of Gap, repeating them either side of a late-morning service.The final service of the rally then begins at 15:18 before a long drive to Monte Carlo in readiness for the last day.
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