Rally Monza: Day 1
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing’s title contenders duel for the lead
The TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team’s two championship contenders Sébastien Ogier and Elfyn Evans battled closely over the lead on the first day of the deciding round, Rally Monza. It is Evans that leads the rally overnight, just 1.4 seconds in front of his team-mate.
The drivers faced a demanding start to the rally with a pair of stages in the mountains above Bergamo both run twice during morning. Heavy fog restricted visibility in places and contributed towards changeable grip levels, but Ogier and Evans both excelled behind the wheel of the Toyota Yaris WRC on its final event at the end of the World Rally Car era. The pair pulled out an advantage of over 20 seconds on their nearest competitor over the loop, with championship leader Ogier winning three of the four stages to head Evans by 6.5s.
For the afternoon the crews returned to Monza to tackle a trio of stages around the famous racing circuit, using the modern track itself as well as historic banking and mixed-surface service roads. Here, Evans was able to claim a narrow lead over Ogier.
With Ogier and Evans competing for the drivers’ title, Kalle Rovanperä is focused on reaching the finish of the event to secure the necessary points for the team to secure the manufacturers’ championship. He is ninth overall after taking a careful approach to the tricky stages. TGR WRC Challenge Program driver Takamoto Katsuta is sixth overall in his Yaris WRC, and was second-quickest in the day’s closing circuit stage.
Jari-Matti Latvala (Team Principal)
“I am very, very pleased with how it went today. We want Seb and Elfyn to have a fair fight for the drivers’ championship, and Kalle is there to support the team in case something happens and we need him to secure the manufacturers’ points. It’s brilliant to see this fight at the front and the performance is very good even though the conditions are not easy. Seb was faster in the mountain stages this morning, and then Elfyn was stronger at the track this afternoon. It looks like we can have a very exciting battle until the end of the rally.”
Sébastien Ogier (Driver car 1)
“It’s been a good day. This morning I really enjoyed driving the stages in the mountains. The feeling was good in the car, we did a good job on the pre-event test and it was good to see the times coming. When it’s nice to drive you can be close the limit but still feel comfortable. This afternoon around the circuit I was a little bit more on the safe side, because there’s a lot of things you can hit, and we also had an issue on SS5 that cost me some time. But it’s OK, I’m happy with where I am right now and we just need to try and do the same tomorrow.”
Elfyn Evans (Driver car 33)
“It was a challenging morning with the thick fog and the grip levels were changing all the time, partly from the dampness and with the different surfaces as well, but it was really enjoyable to drive. We were losing a bit of time to Seb, I was frustrated to give a few seconds away. But we had a good afternoon. I put a lot of effort into being stronger on those stages this year. It’s good to be leading but the gap to Seb is virtually nothing; he was a bit stronger than us in the mountains so we need to look at this and try to improve for tomorrow morning.”
Kalle Rovanperä (Driver car 69)
“Our plan for this rally is to be there for the manufacturers’ points. We don’t want to take any big risks, and then if something happens with our team-mates we can still secure the points. It’s a really important weekend for the team and we want to help as much as we can. It’s not so easy to drive like this, especially when the conditions are tricky like they were this morning in the mountains and you can lose quite a lot of time. The stages at Monza this afternoon were a bit more enjoyable, even though they were tricky in some sections with the gravel and mud.”
End of day one (Friday):
1 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota Yaris WRC) 1h04m05.2s
2 Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1.4s
3 Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +21.6s
4 Dani Sordo/Cándido Carrera (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +24.6s
5 Oliver Solberg/Elliott Edmondson (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +50.6s
6 Takamoto Katsuta/Aaron Johnston (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1m05.5s
7 Gus Greensmith/Jonas Andersson (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1m14.1s
8 Teemu Suninen/Mikko Markkula (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1m28.6s
9 Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1m57.3s
10 Yohan Rossel/Jacques-Julien Renucci (Citroën C3 Rally2) +4m21.3s
(Results as of 19:30 on Friday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)
Saturday is the longest day of the rally and follows a similar format to Friday, beginning with a pair of mountain stages both run twice during the morning: San Fermo is a new addition alongside the returning Selvino. Two passes of another stage at Monza will round out the day.
Press kit and Event pictures will be uploaded here
Follow TOYOTA GAZOO Racing WRT:
∇Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/TOYOTAGAZOORacingWRC
∇Twitter : https://www.twitter.com/TGR_WRC (@TGR_WRC)
∇Instagram : https://www.instagram.com/tgr_wrc/ (@TGR_WRC)
∇YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCtALHup92q5xIFb7n9UXVg