Rallye Monte-Carlo: Day 2 Clean sweep for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing on Monte’s first full day

2023.1.20 (Fri)

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team dominated the stage times on the first full day of Rallye Monte-Carlo, with Sébastien Ogier leading team-mate Kalle Rovanperä on Friday night.

Car 17 (Sébastien Ogier, Vincent Landais)
Car 17 (Sébastien Ogier, Vincent Landais)

Picking up where he left off following Thursday night’s season-opening stages, Ogier continued to set the pace throughout the Friday morning loop of three tests in the French Alps. That was despite an issue with the centrally-supplied hybrid unit that meant he had to drive without its additional boost in the latter two tests.

Team-mate Elfyn Evans remained close to Ogier through the first two stages but in SS5 lost over 40 seconds and dropped to fifth place when he reached the finish with a flat right-rear tyre. He fought back immediately in the afternoon when he led a GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID 1-2-3-4 in SS6.

Ogier was fastest once more in SS7 before Rovanperä took his first stage win of the season in the day’s final test. Ogier’s lead stands at 36s over Rovanperä, who has moved ahead in a close battle with Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) and Ott Tänak (M-Sport Ford).

Takamoto Katsuta enjoyed a strong day in his GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID supported by the WRC Challenge Progam, posting four top-four stage times during the day and moving up to seventh overall.

Jari-Matti Latvala (Team Principal)

“It has been a really good day for us overall. Having been fastest in every stage so far, we can see that the GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID has had really strong performance and our drivers have shown great speed themselves too. To be leading as we are at the end of the first full day and to have seen all four of our drivers setting such good pace means we can be very satisfied. I had maybe expected it to be a little closer at the front but Seb has been able to build a good advantage, with Kalle doing a very nice job as well. Elfyn also had a really good feeling and good speed but unfortunately lost some time this morning. Tomorrow is an even longer day but hopefully we can continue in a similar way.”

Kalle Rovanperä (Driver car 69)
“Today has been not too bad. Of course, I cannot be fully happy; on the morning loop we lost a bit too much time but the stages were also quite salty and dusty for us running first on the road, so it was not easy. It definitely felt much better this afternoon on the second pass of the stages. We had a lot more grip and the times were also better. It’s good to be in the fight. Seb has been much faster than anybody else so far, but we are still in a close fight with the guys behind so we have to continue to push and see what happens.”

Elfyn Evans (Driver car 33)
“We had a pretty decent start again this morning; quite similar to last night in that Seb had a small edge and we were just behind him all the time. I had a good feeling in the car, things have been working well and it’s all coming quite naturally. Unfortunately the puncture just before lunch dropped us down the order. This afternoon we tried our best to claw back what we could, although we didn’t have the best final stage. But there’s still plenty of kilometres to go and we’ll see what we can do tomorrow.”

Sébastien Ogier (Driver car 17)
“It has not been a straightforward day but it has been positive overall; we have arrived back in Monaco tonight with a good lead and that’s what matters. This morning we were without hybrid power for two stages and I knew I had to push very hard and take some risks to compensate for it, and I was surprised that we were still fastest. Thankfully the issue could be fixed before the afternoon and we could benefit from that extra boost once again; we could keep a more normal rhythm and even managed to build our lead a little bit more. It will be a long day tomorrow and we’ll try to drive as clean as possible.”

End of day two (Friday):
1 Sébastien Ogier/Vincent Landais (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) 1h26m39.4s
2 Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) +36.0s
3 Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 HYBRID) +37.9s
4 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Ford Puma Rally1 HYBRID) +54.2s
5 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) +1m02.3s
6 Dani Sordo/Cándido Carrera (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 HYBRID) +1m30.2s
7 Takamoto Katsuta/Aaron Johnston (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) +1m33.1s
8 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 HYBRID) +1m57.7s
9 Nikolay Gryazin/Konstantin Aleksandrov (Škoda Fabia RS Rally2) +4m12.8s
10 Yohan Rossel/Arnaud Dunand (Citroën C3 Rally2) +4m42.5s
(Results as of 17:30 on Friday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)

What's next?
Saturday is the longest day of the rally with 111.78 competitive kilometres to be tackled in a similar format to Friday, featuring two loops of stages around a lunchtime tyre fitting zone in Puget-Théniers. Most of the action takes place even further to the west, though, meaning crews will only return to Monaco nearly 15 hours after they leave in the morning.

Car 69 (Kalle Rovanperä, Jonne Halttunen)
Car 69 (Kalle Rovanperä, Jonne Halttunen)
Car 33 (Elfyn Evans, Scott Martin)
Car 33 (Elfyn Evans, Scott Martin)
Car 17 (Sébastien Ogier, Vincent Landais)
Car 17 (Sébastien Ogier, Vincent Landais)
Sébastien Ogier
Sébastien Ogier