Sébastien Ogier took the overnight lead heading into day 2 of the 2017 Rallye Monte Carlo after erstwhile leader Thierry Neuville crashed on the day’s final stage.
The Belgian had been defending a 51 second lead heading into the stage 13 but ran wide on a corner and broke his Hyundai’s rear suspension. Although he was able to make running repairs and finish the stage, Neuville lost 32 minutes and dropped to 16th overall.
This now means that reigning world champion now heads a M-Sport 1-2 with team-mate Ott Tanak 47 seconds behind. However, Ogier was full of praise for Neuville’s performance and was sad that their battle had ended.
“He was doing a great rally so far,” says Ogier. “He was on fabulous speed in these conditions. To do a whole Monte Carlo at this speed was definitely a challenge.
“We had some luck this weekend. I touched a bank on this stage. Monte Carlo is a rally where you always need to leave a margin.
“I never wish any bad luck on anyone and I feel sorry for him.”
Rounding out the podium places is Jari-Matti Latvala’s Toyota Yaris, who is set to give Toyota a podium finish on their first rally back from their 18-year absence.
Behind them is Citroen’s Craig Breen in last year’s DS3 WRC an amazing result for the young Irishman, 15 seconds ahead of Dani Sordo’s 2017 spec Hyundai i20 in fifth.
Breen’s Northern Irish team leader Kris Meeke’s had his miserable rally ended after a collision on the road section. Meeke was competing after under super rally rules after breaking his suspension on stage four but broke it again after being hit a spectator’s car, forcing his retirement.
After a tricky day one, Elfyn Evans in his DMACK shod Fiesta WRC was a revelation as he set two fastest stage times during the day. had a much better day, helped by being first on the road.
Running first on the road, the Welshman was in the top four on every stage and jumped past WRC2 runner Andreas Mikkelsen into sixth.
Mikkelsen continues to dominate WRC2, while Dumas leads RGT
In WRC2, Mikkelsen continued his dominant run and increased the gap between himself and his Skoda team-mate Jan Kopecky by half a minutes to hold a healthy lead of 3 minutes 19 seconds going into the final day.
Ford’s Bryan Bouffier holds third place in the standings but is two minutes back from the Skodas, and unless an absolute disaster occurs, the Czech Manufacturer will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the 1300cc class victory with another class victory on the Monte.
In WRC3 Raphael Astier continued his giant killing performance which has seen him drag the FWD Peugeot 208 up into 18th place, ahead of not only his fellow 2WD opposition but several R5 cars as well.
The Frenchman holds a 9 minute 50 second lead over the Renault Clio of Luca Panzani with Charles Martin rounding out the podium a minute and a half further back in his Clio.
In the RGT Cup, current World Endurance Champion Romain Dumas held a commanding lead in a day of drama in the new category.
Rally leader Francois Delecour and second place runner Fabio Adolfi both retired their Fiat 124 Abarths, leaving Dumas’ Porsche 911 with a 13 minute lead over Fiat runner Gabriele Noberasco, who is the last classified runner in the category.