The first shakedown of the 2020 FIA World Rally Championship is done and dusted, Toyota Gazoo Racing’s new top-gun Sébastien Ogier topped the shakedown standings ahead of Rallye-Monte Carlo.
First out on the shakedown stage at Gap in Monaco was last year’s championship winner Ott Tänak, he looked to have things under control in the Hyundai i20 WRC. Tänak ended up fourth in the shakedown with his fastest time on the second run of 1:58.3.
“A lot is new and we have a lot to discover! It will be interesting but so far so good…” Tänak commented.
Next out was Tänak’s new teammate Thierry Neuville, the Belgian was 1.3 seconds faster than Tänak on his first run. He hopes to repeat the same results this year at Rallye Monte-Carlo. Neuville finished second in the shakedown with just 0.1 second behind Ogier.
“I think we are very confident that we have a good team and a good car. We have had some great results last year so we are going to try and repeat that this year, and of course we want to bring home both titles this year.” Neuville commented
First out of the Toyota’s was the multiple champion Sébastien Ogier, despite being in a new team for this year he has already shown off what he can do by setting the fastest time of the shakedown with a time of 1:57.1.
“I think more or less every car that starts the rally should be able to win it, but it’s a big point about managing the conditions this weekend.” Ogier commented.
A new start for Evans
Elfyn Evans was the fourth driver to take to the shakedown stage, the Welshman is in a new car and new team this year after spending his WRC career so far at M-Sport. Evans finished third with a great first shakedown in the new car, with a time of 1:57.7 on his second run.
“Nice feeling so far – everything is working well so we’re really looking forward to it!” Evans commented.
Teemu Suninen was the first of the of the M-Sport drivers, he is familiar with the car and already showed he has the pace ahead of the rally. Suninen was the fastest of the M-Sport cars with a time of 1:59.4 on his second run.
“It’s easier when the team is the same. I think the car is easy to drive and easy to get used to, so the gains perhaps will not be so big.” Suninen commented.
Esapekka Lappi makes his M-Sport debut this weekend and is excited for adventure with his new team. Despite the new in the car, Lappi performed well with ending up in seventh place with a time of 1:59.7.
“I feel really excited – I am shaking a bit to be honest! It’s a new adventure but I’m like a little boy – it’s very exciting!” Lappi commented.
Experience counts as Loeb takes it easy
Sébastien Loeb was the next one out on the shakedown stage, the Frenchman who has started the most Rallye Monte-Carlo of them all should be familiar with condition changes in this rally. Even if Loeb is familiar with the roads he did end up second-to-last of the manufacturer entries in the WRC class with a time of 2:00.4 on his second run.
“I tried to prepare as well as possible and the feeling with the car was good in the tests. You need to stay on the road with the tricky conditions and it’s important to have the right tyre choices to be able to push where you can!” Loeb commented.
Newcomer to the WRC class and last year’s WRC2 Pro champion Kalle Rovanperä was the next one out, the young Finnish superstar is really excited for the season in a WRC car. Rovanperä completed his best time in the second run with 2 minutes exactly.
“I feel excited for sure. It’s a new car, new team and quite a big step for us but I hope it goes well.” Rovanperä commented.
Gus Greensmith was the last M-Sport driver to head out on the shakedown, the Brit is looking forward to a clean weekend in his first ever Monte-Carlo start in a WRC car. A strong performance by Greensmith saw his best time on the second run of 2:00.2 that led him to eight overall.
“A lot of work has gone into this year. It’s hard to explain what it’s like to drive these cars and especially to drive one here in Monte-Carlo! It’s been a dream since I was a child so this is really something special.” Greensmith commented.
Last out of the WRC cars was the last year’s WRC2 regular driver Takamoto Katsuta, he has an extended programme this year with Toyota Gazoo Racing and he is pleased for the opportunity the team have given him. Katsuta ended up last overall in the manufacturer WRC entries with a time of 2:01.9.
“It’s very exciting – thank you to all the team for giving me a great opportunity this year. I will try to do my best but I can not forget to gain experience for the future.” Katsuta commented.
Østberg leads the way in WRC2
In the all-new factory class of WRC2 it was the Norwegian Mads Østberg who topped the shakedown time standings, Adrien Fourmaux was second fastest followed by Ole Christian Veiby in third.
In the WRC3 class it was Yoann Bonato who finished on the top, fellow Frenchman Nicloas Ciamin ended up second and newcomer Pepe López in third.
The rally gets underway tomorrow evening in Monaco as the competitors take on the Malijai – Pucmichel stage. You can follow the action with live video on WRC+ and keep up to date throughout the first rally of the season with daily reports here at The Checkered Flag.