Rally Monza: Day 3
Ogier leads in the Toyota Yaris WRC, heartache for Evans
The penultimate day of the 2020 FIA World Rally Championship season was a dramatic one for the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team. Avoiding trouble in treacherous conditions on mountain roads, Sébastien Ogier surged into the lead of Rally Monza and will win a seventh drivers’ crown if he retains that position on the final day. Team-mate Elfyn Evans, in search of his maiden championship, heartbreakingly slid off the road on SS11 and could not continue, although he is set to restart tomorrow.
After Friday’s stages around the Monza racing circuit in continuous rain, the crews faced an altogether different challenge today as they headed for two loops of three stages on higher ground above Bergamo. Already in the morning’s opening stage, Selvino, they encountered a combination of rain and snow that made one downhill section particularly slippery.
Ogier gained time here on his rivals to win the stage and move from third to first overall, where he completed the morning loop. Evans was quickest in the final stage of morning, Costa Valle Imagna, having earlier moved himself up to third place.
In the afternoon, the repeat of Selvino had to be cancelled after the road became blocked by a crash. Then in the second pass of the Gerosa stage, on a section of road coated in a layer of snow, Evans slid wide on a right-hand bend and down a bank. While the damage was minimal, he and co-driver Scott Martin were unable to get the car back on the road to complete the stage. Once it is brought back to the Monza service park, the team will inspect the car with the aim of preparing it to restart on Sunday.
Ogier was next to arrive on the scene, and Evans sportingly warned his team-mate and the rest of his rivals to slow down in order to avoid a similar fate. Ogier went on to win the stage, before SS12 was cancelled for safety reasons due to the quantity of snow. After the day’s final stage in the dark at Monza, Ogier leads by 17.8 seconds overnight.
Kalle Rovanperä spun on the slush in SS7 and picked up minor damage, which cost him some time over the remainder of the morning loop. He ended the day fifth overall, now looking to reach the finish and secure potentially important points for the team. TOYOTA GAZOO Racing WRC Challenge Program driver Takamoto Katsuta made it through without major incident, and was again second quickest on the 'Grand Prix’ test that rounded out the day.
Tommi Mäkinen (Team Principal)
“What happened to Elfyn and Scott was a very hard moment for us. I can understand very well how they must have felt in the car; it’s very difficult to describe. Elfyn has been very good this season, and here he didn’t want to be fastest everywhere, he was just controlling it. It was crazy conditions, and the weather had changed so quickly since the cars left service. In such difficult conditions it’s hard to control the speed: You don’t whether you’re going fast enough. If you make just a very minor mistake, everything can be over. I think it was a good decision to cancel the last stage of the loop, there was so much snow that it would just be nothing to do with rallying anymore, it was more like survival. Now Seb is in the lead: There are not too many stages tomorrow and we’re confident that he can win the rally. He just needs to get to the end now, but nothing is decided until the finish.”
Sébastien Ogier (Driver car 17)
“This was a very, very tricky day. The first loop was enjoyable actually: These mountain stages are very nice and when the conditions were fairly consistent with just a little bit of snow on top of the mountain, it was good fun. But this afternoon when the weather turned with much more rain and snow it was incredibly challenging and actually not really enjoyable to drive. It was just about surviving and trying to keep the car on the road. Where Elfyn went off, it could have happened to anybody. The grip change on this corner was just impossible to anticipate, honestly. In this moment I felt sorry for him, for sure. I would have enjoyed to fight until the end: It’s always more fun that way, and it was looking good for the team in both championships. Now I have an opportunity to clinch a seventh title tomorrow and that’s my target, and I try to finish the job tomorrow. It’s never over until it’s over.”
Elfyn Evans (Driver car 33)
“The snow really came down in the afternoon and the conditions were difficult. The first stage was going quite OK and then the stage was stopped. Then in the second stage of the loop, we were having quite an OK run. But the snow started to fall and I basically just got caught out by a surface change underneath the snow that you couldn’t see. I had it in my notes but ultimately the grip level change was far worse than I expected and there was no chance to stop for the next corner. Obviously I’m feeling massively disappointed with the position we’re in now. I’m also very sorry for the team, as it’s a big blow to our hopes for the manufacturers’ title. On the drivers’ side it’s not completely over for me: There’s a glimmer of hope and obviously we’ll keep fighting tomorrow. It’s looking very unlikely now but we won’t give up until the end.”
Kalle Rovanperä (Driver car 69)
“It was a tricky day but I think that was the case for everybody. We had a lot of snow and slush and there were a few places that were the trickiest I’ve ever been in with a rally car. In the first stage this morning when we reached the slush section I made a mistake in one corner and we hit the bank. There was no big damage to the car, but enough for it to be a bit more tricky to drive. The afternoon was really difficult I would say. When the snowfall came the road conditions changed totally. We were a bit unlucky that the first stage of the loop was cancelled as we were setting a good time there. But it was just good that we got through it and we are here tonight. We are too far away to catch anyone in front tomorow without something happening, but I will just try to bring home as many points as we can for the team.”
End of day three (Saturday):
1 Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Toyota Yaris WRC) 1h47m47.2s
2 Dani Sordo/Carlos del Barrio (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +17.8s
3 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +22.1s
4 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Ford Fiesta WRC) +38.2s
5 Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1m10.1s
6 Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jaeger (Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo) +3m20.6s
7 Oliver Solberg/Aaron Johnston (Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo) +3m34.9s
8 Jari Huttunen/Mikka Lukka (Hyundai i20 R5) +4m16.6s
9 Mads Østberg/Torstein Eriksen (Citroën C3 R5) +4m49.0s
10 Emil Lindholm/Mikael Korhonen (Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo) +5m06.6s
TBC Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota Yaris WRC)
(Results as of 19:00 on Saturday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)
Three stages around the Monza circuit complete the rally on Sunday. The morning begins with a third run over the Grand Prix stage, this time in daylight. Then there are two runs over the Serraglio test, the second as the rally-ending Power Stage with five bonus points on offer to the drivers.
Press kit and Event pictures will be uploaded here
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