Monza WRC: Ogier closes in on title after Evans crash

Sebastien Ogier closed the final full day of Rally Monza on the cusp of his seventh World Rally Championship title after Elfyn Evans crashed out.

Listen to this article

The opening loop of three stages began with a stage win for Ogier by 8.3 seconds, pushing his Toyota Yaris past Hyundai's overnight pacesetter Dani Sordo to the top of the leaderboard.

Sordo's priority is to defend Hyundai's slender seven-point lead in the manufacturers' championship, and he dug deep to take back five seconds on the next stage but could offer little resistance to Evans, who won the third stage of the day.

While the cars were serviced halfway through the day snow arrived in time for the first stage of the afternoon loop, which saw both M-Sport's Gus Greensmith and Hyundai's Ole Christian Veiby crash heavily at the same corner.

On the next stage, the 11th stage overall, disaster befell Evans when the points leader was left an unwilling passenger as his Yaris WRC careened off the road.

Evans and co-driver Scott Marshall leapt out and made sure to slow down the next man through – title rival Ogier – and to try to prevent any other runners from going off and damaging their stranded car.

"It's crazy, crazy conditions," Toyota team boss Tommi Makinen said. "There are no words. It's all that we want, to be champion. He handled it very well, all the time very well and he did an incredible drive. No question of that."

For his part, Evans was sanguine about potentially leaving the door open for Ogier in this year's title race, stating that he had been feeling comfortable and, if anything, not pushing hard enough early in the stages.

"You have to be there, you have to try, you're not going to win anything by sitting round at the back. I think everybody was having to take some sort of chance," he said. "On my side, I'm really sorry for the team, to be honest, because from the manufacturers' side it was looking really good on Toyota Gazoo Racing's part with both of us moving up the order.

"Obviously now my mistake has really put a spanner in that job as well, so I'm really sorry for the team. We've had a fantastic car, a fantastic crew all year, and here as well, so I'm obviously disappointed for myself but also very sorry and disappointed for them as well."

Another big loser on the stage was M-Sport's early leader Esapekka Lappi, who had elected to take three full snow tyres in his Fiesta but did not receive a message from his team to put them on the car.

"No one told us that it was snowing," growled the Finn. "Our information was that it's just wet so I didn't have my snow tyres on. There's no point [having the right tyres] if you don't put them on."

The following stage was then cancelled after a complete whiteout, which prompted the crews to return to the circuit at Monza for the final run of the day. This was won by Sordo, who closed up to 17.8s behind Ogier who leads ahead of the final day.

With outgoing WRC champion Ott Tanak holding third overnight for Hyundai, and the second surviving Toyota of Kalle Rovanpera almost a minute in arrears, Evans's retirement puts Hyundai in pole position to retain the WRC manufacturers' crown.

In the WRC2 title battle, the two contenders Mads Ostberg and Pontus Tidemand hold the top two positions after Adrien Fourmaux lost minutes to a spin and a puncture. With Tidemand having to drop his worst score, Ostberg must hold on to his 30.9s advantage to take the title.

The WRC3 leaderboard is dominated by the Skodas of guest stars Andreas Mikkelsen and Oliver Solberg, who hold sixth and seventh overall after high attrition among the senior WRC class.

Jari Huttunen, third place WRC3, currently has one hand on the category's crown after his nearest rivals, Kajetan Kajetanowicz and Marco Bulcacia Wilkinson, fell back with various struggles.

Junior WRC points leader Tom Kristensson heads his class by more than two-and-a-half minutes.

Three more stages remain on Sunday's schedule, all of which will be held within the confines of the Villa Reale circuit.

The final stage of the day will also see the points-scoring Power Stage for which both Hyundai's Thierry Neuville and Toyota's Elfyn Evans are expected to return and play a key role in deciding the outcome of the 2020 season.

shares
comments

Related video

Evans' WRC title hopes in jeopardy after crash in Monza Rally
Previous article

Evans' WRC title hopes in jeopardy after crash in Monza Rally

Next article

Monza WRC: Ogier wins to claim seventh title

Monza WRC: Ogier wins to claim seventh title
Load comments
The former WRC star playing the unsung hero role for Rovanpera Prime

The former WRC star playing the unsung hero role for Rovanpera

Kalle Rovanpera’s 2022 World Rally Championship displays have been spectacular, with the Toyota driver benefitting from a secret weapon in his crew to win two of the opening three rallies. But while the former challenger to Sebastien Loeb won’t take credit for his fellow Finn's performances, a key bond has been formed which could prove key to Rovanpera’s title charge

WRC
Apr 29, 2022
How Rovanpera's Croatia turnaround sent a message to his WRC rivals Prime

How Rovanpera's Croatia turnaround sent a message to his WRC rivals

After a dominating Rally Croatia, a wrong tyre choice on the final day looked to have undone all Kalle Rovanpera's hard work and left him with a mountain to climb heading into the power stage. That he emerged the winner all the same has surely quelled any lingering doubts that the Finn is the man to beat in the 2022 WRC

WRC
Apr 25, 2022
How M-Sport's faith in Loubet led to a WRC reprieve after a dismal 2021 Prime

How M-Sport's faith in Loubet led to a WRC reprieve after a dismal 2021

It's fair to say 2021 was a year to forget for Pierre-Louis Loubet. A maiden full World Rally Championship season offered hope but soon turned into a nightmare that ended in hospital, after being hit by a car in a road traffic accident. Now handed a lifeline by M-Sport, the Frenchman is desperate to rebuild his career

WRC
Apr 20, 2022
Why WRC mechanics deserve more respect Prime

Why WRC mechanics deserve more respect

The drivers get the glare of attention, but it’s the mechanics who are key to the operation of any World Rally Championship car. Motorsport.com donned a set of overalls and joined M-Sport on a Belgian national rally event to get an inside look into the life of a rally mechanic.

WRC
Apr 17, 2022
The African McRae aiming to become a WRC pioneer Prime

The African McRae aiming to become a WRC pioneer

Taking his first step into the Junior World Rally Championship category, McRae Kimathi - named after 1995 world champion Colin - found himself in the unfamiliar climes of Sweden's snow and ice. Having impressed, Kimathi hopes to blaze a trail to the top level of WRC and help other African drivers to step onto the ladder

WRC
Mar 8, 2022
How Rovanpera grabbed the Rally Sweden spotlight Prime

How Rovanpera grabbed the Rally Sweden spotlight

After a blockbuster opening act to the new era of the World Rally Championship with the battle of the Sebastiens at Monte Carlo, Rally Sweden would be the first chance to assess the next superstar of rallying. While teething issues with the new hybrid power thwarted some of the cast, Kalle Rovanpera’s display gave him headline billing

WRC
Feb 28, 2022
The "painful" journey behind the WRC's generational tech innovation Prime

The "painful" journey behind the WRC's generational tech innovation

As the company selected to provide the hybrid kits for the 2022 World Rally Championship, the pressure was on Compact Dynamics at the Monte Carlo season opener. Needing to treat all three manufacturers equally, it wasn't a straightforward process, but its first big test was a resounding success that bodes well for the future.

WRC
Feb 25, 2022
The mentality shift key to Lappi’s shot at WRC redemption Prime

The mentality shift key to Lappi’s shot at WRC redemption

He appeared poised to become the World Rally Championship’s new bright young star five years ago, but Esapekka Lappi's fortunes since his 2017 breakthrough win offer a cautionary tale of how the tables can turn. Now having rebuilt his career, the Finn is determined to make the most of his second shot at the big time with Toyota.

WRC
Feb 23, 2022