The TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team holds all three podium positions heading into the final day of Rallye Monte-Carlo. With four stages remaining, Sébastien Ogier leads the rally by 13 seconds over his team-mate Elfyn Evans, with Kalle Rovanperä currently completing a top-three lock-out for the team.
As on Friday, the crews faced an early start with the opening stage taking place before dawn, and both of the morning’s stages featured more ice and snow than was seen on the previous days of the rally. Ogier made an especially impressive start in the dark first test, setting the fastest time by 17.8 seconds over Evans to reclaim the rally lead.
On the following stage, the leading pair were disadvantaged by their positions further down the road order, with the snow-covered surface being polished by each passing car to reduce the available grip. Still, they remained out front returning to Gap for the final service. Evans then won the day’s final stage, SS11, by 1.3s over Ogier, reducing his deficit to 13s as the crews head to Monaco ready for the final day of action.
Rovanperä gained third place on the morning’s first stage and further secured that position with the third-best time in SS11, increasing his margin over four position to seven seconds.
Meanwhile, Takamoto Katsuta climbed up to sixth position in the fourth Yaris WRC he drives as part of the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing WRC Challenge Program.
Jari-Matti Latvala (Team Principal)
“I couldn’t be more satisfied with the performance of our drivers so far in this rally and everybody in the whole team has been working really well. Everything is looking very good of course, but we also need to remember that this is the Monte and it can always bring surprises. We saw that a bit in SS10 where the cars running further back were suffering with grip. But the other two stages today went really well for us. The final day is going to be very demanding: I think the Power Stage is one of the most challenging that I have ever seen in my rally career because of the steep downhills and the possible combination with ice. Everything is still possible so we just need to keep our heads cool.”
Sébastien Ogier (Driver car 1)
“It has been a good day, although not perfect. The first stage went very well in super tricky conditions. I really pushed hard so I was happy to cross the finish line and keep the car on the road with that kind of speed. The second stage was much more difficult for us. The conditions were really extreme and I had absolutely no grip, and we lost quite a lot of time compared to the drivers running at the front of the road order. Maybe we also didn’t do the perfect job with the tyre management but they are new and we’re still learning about them. In the final stage the conditions had changed a lot since the first pass and also since the gravel crew went through, but it was a clean drive for me. Most importantly we are in the lead and that’s what we need to keep now.”
Elfyn Evans (Driver car 33)
“It has been a bit of frustrating day for me. I didn’t start off too well in the first stage this morning. Once I got my rhythm the time was not so bad, but Seb was obviously very strong. In the second stage it seemed to polish a lot and as later runners we seemed to have a lot less grip. Still, our time was quite close to Seb’s, although we had a small stall at a hairpin which cost us a handful of seconds. The last stage was difficult because the gravel notes were telling you it’s much worse than what you were seeing on the road. I tried to stay clean and out of trouble and it seemed OK. There was more to get out of it today and I wasn’t brave enough really, but of course it’s about finding a balance in these conditions. We’ll keep the pressure on tomorrow.”
Kalle Rovanperä (Driver car 69)
“It was a nice start this morning, the first stage went quite well. I was quite careful in the tricky conditions but the time compared to others was good. The second one was really tricky, it felt good but I think the road was getting much slower all the time and we lost some time there. The last stage was tricky because I had a problem with my earplugs, so Jonne had to scream all the time so I could hear the notes! But I think it was a good run – we were faster than the driver behind us so it was enough.”
End of day Three (Saturday):
1 Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Toyota Yaris WRC) 2h16m31.9s
2 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota Yaris WRC) +13.0s
3 Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota Yaris WRC) +56.8s
4 Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1m03.8s
5 Dani Sordo/Carlos del Barrio (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +2m11.3s
6 Takamoto Katsuta/Dan Barritt (Toyota Yaris WRC) +4m43.1s
7 Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo) +5m22.7s
8 Gus Greensmith/Elliott Edmondson (Ford Fiesta WRC) +6m14.6s
9 Adrien Fourmaux/Renaud Jamoul (Ford Fiesta Rally2) +7m36.5s
10 Eric Camilli/François-Xavier Buresi (Citroën C3 Rally2) +7m54.1s
(Results as of 13:30 on Saturday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)
The final day of Rallye Monte-Carlo takes place further to the west of the Principality than usual, with a pair of stages to each be run twice. The second of these tests, Briançonnet – Entrevaux, will run as the rally-ending Power Stage with up to five bonus points on offer for the fastest times