Formula 1
28 Mar
Event finished
R
Emilia Romagna GP
18 Apr
FP1 in
2 days
MotoGP
04 Apr
Event finished
R
Portugal GP
18 Apr
FP1 in
2 days
Formula E
24 Apr
Next event in
10 days
NASCAR Cup
R
Richmond
18 Apr
Race in
5 days
IndyCar
R
Birmingham
18 Apr
Practice 1 in
4 days
23 Apr
Next event in
9 days
WEC
13 Jun
Race in
61 days
Supercars
20 Mar
Event finished
17 Apr
Practice 1 in
3 days

Monte Carlo WRC: Evans takes lead as Ogier suffers puncture

Britain’s Elfyn Evans holds the overnight lead in Monte Carlo as Toyota seized the initiative on the opening round of this year’s World Rally Championship.

A very early alarm call awaited the mechanics and crews in readiness for an 06:10 start time, the schedule for this weekend’s event being dictated by local COVID-19 measures.

Compliance meant that the first two stages of the day would be run in the dark and, with uncertain conditions in the mountains, this led to plenty of hesitancy among the crews which handed a clear advantage to seven-time Monte winner, Sebastien Ogier.

Overnight leader Ott Tanak struggled to match his early form. His main issue came from being hindered by his Hyundai’s engine stalling in the hairpins, a recurrence of a problem that dogged the team in 2020.

Tanak went with the same tyre selection as the Toyotas, with a mix of four super soft tyres and two studded full snow tyres to tackle the peaks. The Estonian’s team mates, Thierry Neuville and Dani Sordo, meanwhile went out with three of each type.

Tanak’s cautious approach in the darkness saw him finish fifth on the first stage of the day and drop to fourth overall behind all three of the front-line Toyotas.

Ogier won the stage but Kalle Rovanpera assumed the overall lead before his illustrious team-mate let rip through the next stage to take control of the event.

In Ogier’s wake, Evans recovered from a half-spin on the first stage of the morning to take second after Rovanpera incurred a 10 second penalty for late check-in.

Notwithstanding Rovanpera’s transgression, all three Toyotas pulled away from Tanak, their closest challenger, while the tyre choices of the other Hyundais put them in all sorts of bother.

Sordo’s car was running crabwise through the stages on its odd mix of rubber, while Neuville was embroiled in one drama after another.

The morning loop ended with Ogier 11.3 seconds ahead of Evans but the positions were reversed on the first stage after service when Ogier suffered a puncture and a spin that cost more than half a minute in total.

The seven-time champion was livid and made his feelings clear when he reached the end of the stage. “I mean we knew this tyre was very weak for punctures and unfortunately it's happened already,” he said.

Rovanpera lost half a minute after going off into a field, which allowed the ever-consistent Evans through to a lead of 20s over Tanak, with Ogier a further 3s behind.

Despite being forced to put on a studded tyre to replace his punctured wheel, Ogier harnessed his frustration to light up the final stage of the day. He swept through in a time that immediately claimed back 16s from Evans’s lead.

“I was too careful probably in some places but the car just has a mind of its own sometimes… so much aquaplaning and the roads are so narrow,” Evans said. “It’s a great time from him (Ogier).”

Tanak continued with his solid run and the other Hyundais had a much better setup for the afternoon loop.

On the final stage of the day, Sordo was just 1.3s off Ogier’s stunning benchmark time.

 This increasing good cheer within the Hyundai camp was nevertheless tempered on the final stage when Pierre-Louis Loubet, in the team’s older-spec car, aquaplaned head-first into a rock face.

Neither Loubet or co-driver Vincent Landais were injured, but it is uncertain if the car can be repaired to restart the event on Saturday. The stage was red-flagged soon afterwards.

In WRC2, it was the veteran Andreas Mikkelsen who put all his experience to work at the wheel of his Skoda Fabia.

The Norwegian spent the day building a lead almost a minute over the M-Sport Fiesta of Adrien Fourmaux, while the train of Citroen C3s at the head of WRC3 rolled on with Yohan Rossel maintaining his lead over Yoann Bonato and Nicolas Ciamin.

Cla Driver/Codriver Car Total Time Gap
1 United Kingdom Elfyn Evans
United Kingdom Scott Martin
Toyota Yaris WRC 1:33'57.500
2 France Sébastien Ogier
France Julien Ingrassia
Toyota Yaris WRC 1:34'04.900 7.400
3 Estonia Ott Tanak
Estonia Martin Jarveoja
Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC 1:34'22.800 25.300
4 Finland Kalle Rovanperä
Finland Jonne Halttunen
Toyota Yaris WRC 1:34'40.600 43.100
5 Belgium Thierry Neuville
Belgium Martijn Wydaeghe
Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC 1:34'56.600 59.100
6 Spain Dani Sordo
Spain Carlos del Barrio
Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC 1:35'47.100 1'49.600
7 Norway Andreas Mikkelsen
Norway Ola Floene
Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo 1:37'48.300 3'50.800
8 Japan Takamoto Katsuta
United Kingdom Daniel Barritt
Toyota Yaris WRC 1:38'02.500 4'05.000
9 France Adrien Fourmaux
Belgium Renaud Jamoul
Ford Fiesta Rally2 1:38'35.400 4'37.900
10 United Kingdom Gus Greensmith
United Kingdom Elliott Edmondson
Ford Fiesta WRC 1:39'08.300 5'10.800
shares
comments

Related video

Monte Carlo WRC: Tanak stars in opening stages

Previous article

Monte Carlo WRC: Tanak stars in opening stages

Next article

Ogier ready to “take more risk” to win Monte Carlo Rally

Ogier ready to “take more risk” to win Monte Carlo Rally
Load comments

About this article

Series WRC
Event Rally Monte Carlo
Drivers Elfyn Evans
Author Nick Garton
Why WRC's hybrid path could leave it at a crossroads Prime

Why WRC's hybrid path could leave it at a crossroads

With all three major manufacturers committing to the World Rally Championship’s hybrid era from 2022, the future of the series is assured for now, but it could lead to trickier twists and turns further down the road

WRC
Apr 1, 2021
How Tanak froze out the competition at the Arctic Rally Prime

How Tanak froze out the competition at the Arctic Rally

Ott Tanak made up for a disastrous Monte Carlo Rally by leading all the way on the snow-kissed stages of the Arctic Rally Finland and in the process hit back at an event Toyota had been expected to dominate…

WRC
Mar 1, 2021
What to look out for in the 2021 WRC Prime

What to look out for in the 2021 WRC

As the 2021 World Rally Championship prepares to launch amid tight COVID-19 restrictions in Monte Carlo, here are the eight things unrelated to the pandemic that you should keep an eye on this year

WRC
Jan 21, 2021
Evans on the talking points of WRC 2021 Prime

Evans on the talking points of WRC 2021

He came close to the title last year, and now Toyota's Elfyn Evans gives his verdict on what to expect from 2021 as the World Rally Championship prepares to reconvene for the Monte Carlo season opener.

WRC
Jan 20, 2021
Why Britain's continued WRC absence is a wake-up call Prime

Why Britain's continued WRC absence is a wake-up call

With Rally GB dropping off the World Rally Championship calendar for the second year in a row, one of Britain's best-attended sporting events faces an uncertain future. It's an unfortunate situation that points to troubling times ahead

WRC
Jan 12, 2021
The Top 10 WRC drivers of 2020 Prime

The Top 10 WRC drivers of 2020

A drastically-shortened 2020 season gave the World Rally Championship protagonists precious little stage mileage to strut their stuff, but as ever the cream rose to the top across the seven events. We rank the year's best performers

WRC
Jan 4, 2021
The twists and turns of a turbulent 2020 WRC season Prime

The twists and turns of a turbulent 2020 WRC season

The 2020 World Rally Championship bestrode all 12 months of the Gregorian calendar, and in terms of the competition it was a cracker. Moreover, it was an inspiration in dark days for the world and our industry.

WRC
Jan 1, 2021
The early setbacks that shaped the WRC's greatest driver Loeb Prime

The early setbacks that shaped the WRC's greatest driver Loeb

A series of close calls in his formative years threatened to leave rallying's top echelon tantalisingly out of reach for the man who would go on to claim nine WRC titles. In an exclusive interview, Sebastien Loeb recalls the key steps on his road to dominance.

WRC
Dec 11, 2020