2020 FIA World Rally Championships
All three TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team drivers Sébastien Ogier, Elfyn Evans and Kalle Rovanperä made it through the first full day of competitive action on Rally Monza without any major drama and maintain a strong overall position in very challenging weather conditions at the famous Italian motorsport venue.
“It was a very tricky day and I knew that quite a lot would happen out there in such difficult conditions. But all of our drivers did a very good job, no question about it. They didn’t make any big mistakes and that was very important today, and we have three drivers all still in the fight on the rally. But there is still a long way to go and I’m sure that the championships will not be decided until the Power Stage on Sunday, especially with what is to come tomorrow on the mountain roads.”Tommi Makinen – Team Principal
The day was made up of five stages around the parkland circuit, using not only the racetrack but also the historic banking, access roads, and gravel sections. These constant changes of the surface would have made the stages tricky in any conditions but were made extremely difficult by almost non-stop rain during the day.
This helped contribute to some large time gaps between the drivers in the morning in particular, and it became clear that the best choice of tire for the low-grip conditions was in fact a snow tire (without studs). With this fitted, drivers’ championship contenders Evans and Ogier both recorded the fastest time during the afternoon and closed up on the rally leaders. Ogier ended the day ahead in third overall, 12 seconds from first place, with Evans 5.1s behind him in fourth. Rovanperä also set strong times and is sixth overall, and only 24.8s away from the leader.
After damages caused him to stop in Thursday’s opening stage, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing WRC Challenge Program driver Takamoto Katsuta restarted this morning and showed great progress: On SS5 he completed the first-ever 1-2-3-4 result on a stage for the Toyota Yaris WRC, and he was then second fastest in the dark of SS6, only 0.2s from the best time.
POST RACE INTERVIEWS
Tommi Mäkinen (Team Principal)
“It was a very tricky day and I knew that quite a lot would happen out there in such difficult conditions. But all of our drivers did a very good job, no question about it. They didn’t make any big mistakes and that was very important today, and we have three drivers all still in the fight on the rally. But there is still a long way to go and I’m sure that the championships will not be decided until the Power Stage on Sunday, especially with what is to come tomorrow on the mountain roads.”
Sébastien Ogier (Driver car 17)
“It has been an eventful day for us. We had good pace but there were also some small mistakes and issues which cost us some time. However, the most important thing is that tonight we are still in the fight for the win and that’s what matters. Tomorrow there is going to be even more room to make differences with our rivals with the very tricky conditions that await us in the mountains. Our road position should be good as well if there is fresh snow. Let’s see what we can do.”
Elfyn Evans (Driver car 33)
“Overall, today’s been reasonably OK. There’s been no mistakes, and no time lost. Perhaps it was not spectacularly fast either, but I feel that in the difficult conditions it was important to strike a balance between going quickly and also not making mistakes. We’ve seen a lot of standing water, especially in the ruts throughout the second pass of the stages, so that’s been tricky. It looks like we’re going to have another very challenging day tomorrow. It’s been winter conditions out on the stages today, but I believe it’s changing hourly, so we have to wake up in the morning and see what awaits us.”
Kalle Rovanperä (Driver car 69)
“I think the plan today was to drive without any big risks, and we didn’t do any mistakes, basically. There was only one bad stage time on the second stage this morning where we lost a bit too much; otherwise, it was quite good. The conditions were extremely tricky with the standing water. In the afternoon it was starting to be really difficult, but we chose the snow tire like many of the others, and it worked really well. Tomorrow is going to be really tricky: I think we have to see the conditions in the morning, and then we decide what we do in terms of tire strategy.”
END OF DAY RESULTS
1 Dani Sordo/Carlos del Barrio (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) 53m29.3s
2 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1.0s
3 Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Toyota Yaris WRC) +12.0s
4 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota Yaris WRC) +17.1s
5 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +17.7s
6 Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota Yaris WRC) +24.8s
7 Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jaeger (Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo) +1m04.2s
8 Ole Christian Veiby/Jonas Andersson (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1m14.3s
9 Emil Lindholm/Mikael Korhonen (Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo) +1m56.7s
10 Oliver Solberg/Aaron Johnston (Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo) +1m57.9s
Saturday takes the rally into the mountains of the Lombardy region for a loop of three stages on closed public roads, which will be repeated in the afternoon after midday service at Monza. On higher ground, there is the possibility of wintery conditions. The day will end with a repeat of the Grand Prix stage run in darkness, as it was this evening.