The M-Sport World Rally Team were the surprise package on the opening two stages on day one of Rallye Monte-Carlo as the Ott Tänak and Elfyn Evans finished day 1 fourth and fifth respectively.
Tänak had a lot to prove coming into the event having been given another opportunity in a works team and he certainly couldn’t be accused of not trying as he crossed the finish line of the opening test second fastest, bettered only by the nine-time World Rally Champion Sébastian Loeb. On the second test Tanak went seventh fastest and dropped to fourth overall to complete an impressive day 1 for the Estonian.
“I’m very happy with our performance this evening. The first stage was more or less full snow and ice. It was very tricky, but we managed to find a good rhythm. We stayed on the road with no mistakes and no moments which was a key factor.
“Then for the second stage there was more Tarmac but still a lot of icy patches and a lot of gravel had been pulled onto the road. We made a good choice with the tyres, and I enjoyed it as much as I could. I think we’ve made a really good start to the rally.”
Welshman Evans started the day with a steady run over the opening stage in the difficult conditions. The M-Sport driver finished tenth – 46.7 seconds off the lead.
His tyre choice seemed to suit stage two however and the Briton managed to vastly improve his pace setting fourth fastest time to head into the overnight halt in fifth overall 47.4 seconds off the lead and just 8.8 off his teammate. Setting up a great team battle for day 2.
“It’s been an incredible start to the rally. The first stage was worse than expected and we didn’t have a great run. The conditions were so tricky and we were conscious of not making a mistake on the first stage.
“Then the team made a fantastic tyre choice for the second stage. We had the correct tyres in the car and that really proved valuable. A big thanks to everybody for what has been a good start to the event for us.”