Rallye Monte-Carlo: Day 1
Evans and TOYOTA GAZOO Racing lead opening night of WRC 2024
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team driver Elfyn Evans leads Rallye Monte-Carlo after setting the pace in the first stages of the 2024 season on Thursday night.
After the pre-event shakedown was held on Wednesday evening close to the service park in Gap, the crews travelled to Monaco on Thursday for the traditional start ceremony in the iconic Casino Square.
Shortly before the rally cars went over the start ramp, Sébastien Ogier and Kalle Rovanperä helped to reveal their special edition GR Yaris models, which feature input from TGR-WRT’s two world champion drivers.
After leaving Monaco, crews headed into the mountains for two night-time stages, which still provided a challenging start even though warmer-than-usual temperatures have meant less ice and snow in the stages than might normally be expected.
Evans made a strong start in the first test from Thoard to Saint-Geniez, where he was fastest by 5.2 seconds, and he was even further clear in the second stage between Bayons and Bréziers, where he was quickest by 6.8s.He leads the rally by 15.1s over Thierry Neuville (Hyundai), with Ogier in third position just 6.5s further back. Takamoto Katsuta rounds out the top six overall, 46.3s away.
Jari-Matti Latvala (Team Principal)
“It’s great to get the season started and it was quite a nice start for us tonight. Elfyn’s pace was very good: we could see that he has continued with the same confidence that he had in Rally Japan at the end of last season. The second stage especially is never an easy one as the surface is always slippery, so you need to be pretty confident to do stage times like that and the gaps were bigger than I anticipated this evening. For Seb, running later on the road it was dirtier for him, but I expect that we will see more of an attack from him tomorrow. I also think tomorrow will be a better day for Taka as he gains confidence which is important on these roads.”
Elfyn Evans (Driver car 33)
“It's been a pretty good evening. We had a good clean run in the first stage, the feeling was quite OK. It’s quite an abrasive stage that’s hard on the tyres so it’s difficult to know if you’re using enough of the grip. Stage two was then quite a bit more complicated, there was quite a lot of dampness around combined with a shiny surface so the grip was low. The objective tonight was to get through cleanly more than anything so of course I’m happy but it’s just the beginning and there’s a very long way to go.”
Sébastien Ogier (Driver car 17)
“It was not an easy start for us tonight. It seemed difficult for us with our road position, but we sort of expected that with these conditions. The road was getting very dirty very quickly. On the second stage I was hoping we could lose a bit less time, and we had a decent run and decent rhythm, but the surface was getting quite greasy as well there. We couldn’t match Elfyn’s pace and have lost a bit of time already, but we’ve just started the rally and many things can still happen. Hopefully we can fight a bit better tomorrow.”
Takamoto Katsuta (Driver car 18)
“It’s always a big challenge to start this rally and it’s not so easy to get into the feeling straight away. The car is working very well, I just need to find a bit more of a comfortable zone in myself. Tonight I was struggling a bit to find the limit given how much grip there actually was and I was way too careful. I think that was mainly how I was losing time. Still, this rally is not about pushing to the maximum on every stage and more about trying to be consistent, and I will try to improve step by step.”
End of day one (Thursday):
1 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) 26m12.9s
2 Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 HYBRID) +15.1s
3 Sébastien Ogier/Vincent Landais (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) +21.6s
4 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 HYBRID) +22.8s
5 Adrien Fourmaux/Alexandre Coria (Ford Puma Rally1 HYBRID) +39.0s
6 Takamoto Katsuta/Aaron Johnston (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) +46.3s
7 Grégoire Munster/Louis Louka (Ford Puma Rally1 HYBRID) +1m06.0s
8 Andreas Mikkelsen/Torstein Eriksen (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 HYBRID) +1m08.8s
9 Pepe López/David Vázquez (Škoda Fabia RS Rally2) +1m36.5s
10 Nikolay Gryazin/Konstantin Aleksandrov (Citroën C3 Rally2) +1m50.7s
(Results as of 23:30 on Thursday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)
Friday is the first full day of the rally and features a loop of three stages to the east of Gap to be repeated either side of mid-day service. Although familiar from the past, these tests were last run in either 2020 or 2021.
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