Rally Monza: Day 1
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing claims the early lead at Monza
The final round of the 2020 FIA World Rally Championship season is underway after the first of several tricky tests around the Monza racing circuit this afternoon. Sébastien Ogier claimed the early rally lead with a stage win, with his fellow TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team drivers Elfyn Evans and Kalle Rovanpera also safely completing the stage inside the top five.
This morning, a 4.64-kilometre shakedown stage gave the drivers the chance to sample some of the sections of stage they will be tackling at Monza over the weekend, featuring asphalt, gravel, mud and grass. Fog and near-freezing temperatures added to the lack of grip on offer. Ogier was third-fastest here after three runs, with Rovanperä fourth and Evans in ninth.
The opening stage of the rally was the shortest test of the weekend at 4.33 kilometres. Ogier set the best time by 0.5 seconds, while both Evans and Rovanperä were within three seconds of his time.
Tom Fowler (Technical Director)
“It’s been quite a challenging Thursday from an engineering point of view because we don’t really have a lot of experience of this kind of rally, with the mix of surfaces being used here at Monza. We’ve spent our preparation time for this event trying to piece together what we do know, but there were still things to learn about this unfamiliar type of surface combination: Very slippery gravel and mud with an asphalt car. Also, with the weather that’s currently forecast over the next three days, we pretty much want to be using the same tyre most of the time and that’s not possible with the package that all the teams have for the whole weekend. So we need to work out the best compromise. We used shakedown as a bit of an extended test, and we learned a lot from that which we then used in the first stage. That went very well for all three cars, and now we’re looking forward to putting our knowledge to good use over the longer stages that are coming up tomorrow.”
Sébastien Ogier (Driver car 17)
“Like expected, in shakedown already this morning the grip was not that high. The muddy sections especially get trickier as more cars go through. Shakedown was about controlling the feeling in the car and managing the tyres a bit, because we don’t have so many of the fastest option for the weekend. As for the first stage this afternoon, I’m always happy to set a good time like we did. It was only four kilometres so there’s still a long, long way to go, but so far the feeling is good and I hope we can carry on like this tomorrow.”
Elfyn Evans (Driver car 33)
“It was a difficult start on the first run in shakedown this morning: I got caught out with the level of grip and picked up a bit of damage. But the team got that fixed and after that we worked through some different tyre options and settings and I think we found some small improvements. In the first stage this afternoon maybe I was a bit careful, but overall it all went quite OK and I believe we can be competitive over the weekend. It will be difficult again tomorrow: With all these stages around the circuit, the biggest thing is going from asphalt onto gravel onto mud, and also the asphalt itself is changing in grip quite a lot, so it’s all about reading that grip.”
Kalle Rovanperä (Driver car 69)
“Shakedown was a nice chance to get the feeling, and then the first stage was just about getting through quite safely and trying to see the conditions. When it’s wet the racetrack is quite slippery, but then when we go off track there are some really narrow parts with grass, mud and gravel, and when you go onto these parts with a car set up for asphalt, you have to be really careful. Tomorrow will be interesting if it’s going to rain. I know it’s going to be really challenging with my experience but I try to be as quick as possible and try to bring the points for the team.”
End of day one (Thursday):
1 Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Toyota Yaris WRC) 3m31.5s
2 Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +0.5s
3 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +2.0s
4 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota Yaris WRC) +2.7s
5 Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota Yaris WRC) +3.0s
6 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Ford Fiesta WRC) +3.7s
7 Dani Sordo/Carlos del Barrio (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +3.7s
8 Gus Greensmith/Elliott Edmondson (Ford Fiesta WRC) +4.0s
9 Jari Huttunen/Mikko Lukka (Hyundai i20 R5) +5.8s
10 Teemu Suninen/Jarmo Lehtinen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +6.4s
(Results as of 16:00 on Thursday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)
Friday consists of five more stages around the grounds of the Monza circuit – with an opportunity for service after each one. Stages four and five of the rally will be the longest of the day at 16.22 kilometres. The final ‘Grand Prix’ test will take in place in darkness.
Press kit and Event pictures will be uploaded here
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