Rallye Monte-Carlo: Day 3 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing still fighting for Monte-Carlo victory
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team remains firmly in the fight for victory on the legendary Rallye Monte-Carlo with Sébastien Ogier just 3.3 seconds from the lead going into the final day.
The longest day of the rally began with Elfyn Evans leading team-mate Ogier by 4.5 seconds with Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) also in close pursuit. Neuville moved to the front during the morning, but the top three were separated by only 7.7s at mid-day service.
Ogier then began the afternoon with back-to-back fastest times, recording his 700th WRC stage win as he claimed the rally lead for the first time this weekend in the day’s penultimate test. Neuville responded to end the day in the lead, but Ogier’s hopes of a record-extending 10th victory on home roads remain strong.
Evans conceded the lead in SS10, which he had to drive without the additional power of the hybrid unit. In the afternoon he switched his focus to beginning his season with a strong haul of points: the new points system introduced for 2024 means that by finishing Saturday in third overall, he will receive at least 13 points should he complete the rally on Sunday. Up to 12 extra points will also be available from Sunday’s separate classification and the rally-ending Power Stage.
Holding second and third tonight also means TGR-WRT is in a good position for manufacturers’ championship points.
After losing five minutes on Friday morning, Takamoto Katsuta has climbed up to seventh place overall having showed some strong pace through Saturday, including a trio of top-three stage times.
Jari-Matti Latvala (Team Principal)
“Overall it’s been a very interesting day with a great fight to follow at the front. Unfortunately we couldn’t quite finish the day with the lead. Seb had a great attack this afternoon to move in front, but Thierry was somehow just a bit faster on the last stage. Elfyn decided this afternoon to focus more on the championship points rather than take big risks, which I think was a clever call. Now we move onto Sunday with the new format for the first time, with further points available. For me, the victory is what you really want, and it’s absolutely what Seb wants here on this event and it would be great if he could achieve it. Elfyn will want to get as many points as possible, but while you cannot take it too carefully, it’s also important to finish to secure what you got on Saturday. Taka also showed some great pace today and hopefully he too can take extra points tomorrow.”
Elfyn Evans (Driver car 33)
“It’s not been the best day for us. The morning was a bit mixed: the first stage was difficult to judge with a lot of black ice, and then in the middle stage we didn’t have the hybrid power, which was not ideal. Then this afternoon we just didn’t seem to have the pace for some reason. We need to look into why. The feeling was not where it was before, but it was also maybe not as bad as the times suggested. Anyway, with the new format tomorrow is sort of a new day and that’s how we’ll treat it, and we’ll try to be ready to fight again.”
Sébastien Ogier (Driver car 17)
“I think it’s been an exciting day for everyone to follow and also for us in the car, we had a lot of fun. The only negative was the first stage this morning where we were too careful and lost quite a bit of time. After that it was a good day with decent pace, we pushed as hard as we could to try and come back into the fight and we are still in this fight. With just a three-second difference I think tomorrow will also be exciting to follow, especially the first stage in the morning which will be a big challenge on the third pass. I’m looking forward to it, let’s try and make it a perfect day.”
Takamoto Katsuta (Driver car 18)
“I had a very good feeling in the car today. I was able to push more than yesterday and the times were also looking pretty good. This afternoon there was of course more gravel and mud on the road, and I’m not so comfortable in those conditions so maybe I was not quite on the pace I really wanted. But this gives me more of an understanding of what I need to do for the first stage tomorrow morning. We got back to seventh overall today which should hopefully give us some points and we’ll carry a good feeling and confidence into tomorrow and try to push to score some more.”
End of day three (Saturday):
1 Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 HYBRID) 2h37m58.5s
2 Sébastien Ogier/Vincent Landais (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) +3.3s
3 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) +34.9s
4 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 HYBRID) +1m46.9s
5 Adrien Fourmaux/Alexandre Coria (Ford Puma Rally1 HYBRID) +2m54.0s
6 Andreas Mikkelsen/Torstein Eriksen (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 HYBRID) +4m21.2s
7 Takamoto Katsuta/Aaron Johnston (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) +7m34.0s
8 Nikolay Gryazin/Konstantin Aleksandrov (Citroën C3 Rally2) +8m55.7s
9 Pepe López/David Vázquez (Škoda Fabia RS Rally2) +8m55.9s
10 Yohan Rossel/Arnaud Dunand (Citroën C3 Rally2) +9m02.6s
(Results as of 17:50 on Saturday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)
The final leg on Sunday begins from Gap with a third visit to the La Bréole-Selonnet stage already run on Friday, followed by a single pass over the Col du Corobin from Digne-Les-Bains. The rally-ending Power Stage is an uphill blast towards the legendary Col de Turini, before the official prize giving in Monaco’s Casino Square.
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