Rallye Monte-Carlo: Day 1 Super start on WRC’s opening night for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team has made a strong start to the 2023 season with Sébastien Ogier leading team-mate Elfyn Evans after the opening night of Rallye Monte-Carlo.
After the pre-event shakedown held on Thursday morning, the rally commenced as usual from Monaco’s iconic Casino Square. From there, the crews headed directly into the mountains above the Principality for two stages in the dark, the first of which finished atop the famous Col de Turini.
Ogier set the quickest time there by 1.3 seconds over Evans, and they repeated that one-two result on the second test, Ogier this time fastest by 4.7s. Six seconds separate the pair overnight with a further 9.4s back to the driver in third.
Kalle Rovanperä made a solid start to the defence of his championship title with a pair of fifth-fastest times and the same position overall, 17.1s from the lead.
Takamoto Katsuta, driving a fourth GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID through the TGR WRC Challenge Program, was an excellent fourth-quickest in the first stage but was slowed by a handbrake issue through the many hairpins on the second stage, and sits ninth overall.
Jari-Matti Latvala (Team Principal)
“It has been a really good start for us tonight. Seb is always very motivated on this rally and we could expect him to be on the attack from the start, and to see Elfyn immediately on that kind of pace too is very encouraging. As Kalle admits he doesn’t like these types of stages in the dark but he made a reasonable start. Taka was also starting well; he lost some time in SS2 with an issue but we will fix that and tomorrow is a new day. In general the conditions are very dry but if you then attack very hard and suddenly find some slippery places, these can affect you a lot. The role of the gravel crews will be very important so we can make sure the drivers go out feeling confident that they have all the information about the conditions.”
Kalle Rovanperä (Driver car 69)
“It has been quite a good start for us. The plan was just to start with a safe pace and we are in the fight with the others, so it’s a good place to continue from tomorrow. SS1 was quite tricky, it’s not really my favourite style of stage and there was even some cleaning at the end for us with quite a lot of salt put down on the road, so those behind us were quite a bit faster there. SS2 was also a clean drive. I was just a bit too careful with my ice notes on a frosty section. But overall it’s been a pretty nice start.”
Elfyn Evans (Driver car 33)
“It’s always exciting to start Rallye Monte-Carlo in the dark, it’s a pretty special feeling. I managed to settle into a pretty decent rhythm quite early on in the first stage and set a decent time. It was mostly dry but quite slippery towards the top of the Col de Turini. I was a bit more hesitant at some points in the second stage – we found some black ice in one corner which was quite hairy. Overall though it’s been a solid start and a decent evening, with a massive day ahead tomorrow.”
Sébastien Ogier (Driver car 17)
“I think we are always happy to get through this first evening in Monte Carlo because we know there can be a lot of surprises. Tonight there were not so many, but there was still this salty and slippery section at the end of SS1 and this very icy corner in SS2. So it’s good to put that behind us and to be in the lead with two stage wins is always positive. But the gaps are not that big. It’s just the start of this rally and we have to carry on like this tomorrow. There’s a long way to go, we have to keep the focus very high and try to keep this rhythm going and stay out of trouble.”
End of day one (Thursday):
1 Sébastien Ogier/Vincent Landais (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) 26m33.7s
2 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) +6.0s
3 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Ford Puma Rally1 HYBRID) +15.4s
4 Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 HYBRID) +15.5s
5 Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) +17.1s
6 Dani Sordo/Cándido Carrera (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 HYBRID) +32.1s
7 Pierre-Louis Loubet/Nicolas Gilsoul (Ford Puma Rally1 HYBRID) +40.3s
8 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 HYBRID) +41.4s
9 Takamoto Katsuta/Aaron Johnston (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) +57.0s
10 Nikolay Gryazin/Konstantin Aleksandrov (Škoda Fabia RS Rally2) +1m06.6s
(Results as of 23:00 on Thursday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)
Friday consists of two loops of three stages to the north-west of Monaco around Puget-Théniers, which hosts a mid-day tyre-fitting zone with crews not due to return to service until the end of the day.
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