Toyota Gazoo Racing has dominated the first full-day of the Rallye Monte-Carlo by claiming five out of six stage wins on the two loops today, putting two of the Toyota’s in first and second place overall over the night.
The longest day of the event consisted of two loops of three stages and featured a range of weather conditions, including ice, snow, rain and mud as well as sections of dry asphalt.
Starting the day fourth overall following Thursday night’s opening stages, Elfyn Evans was fastest on all three of this morning’s stages as he moved into the lead of the rally..
“It was a really good morning for sure. The conditions were not so easy and the grip was quite changeable, but the Yaris gave me good confidence, so I was able to relax and enjoy driving the car,” Evans said.
“The afternoon was not quite so good – the conditions in the last stage were deteriorating with every car that passed and we were probably a bit too brave on the tyre choice. But overall it’s been a good day and hopefully it will be more of the same tomorrow.”
Six-time Monte-Carlo winner Sébastien Ogier was quickest on the first-two stages of the afternoon loop and then just edged past Evans on the final stage of the day, ending the day 1.2 seconds lead ahead of the Welshman.
“Overall, I am happy with the day. This morning I didn’t feel perfectly comfortable in the car and I was a little bit cautious, so I was not in the best rhythm,” Ogier said.
“But for this afternoon we made some little adjustments to the setup and I felt more confident, and I could set some good times. We feared that the tyre choice was not optimal,”
“In the end it was not that bad, as it was much drier than expected in the second stage of the loop. The gaps are still very small but it is nice to be in this position.”
Kalle Rovanperä also had a strong day, with his first full experience of competing in a full-day at rallying’s highest level. With his main focus to gain experience, he improved his times during the day and he finished sixth overall after the afternoon loop.
“I’m happy with today as we’ve improved a lot from this morning, which was quite difficult for me. Again, the conditions were new, going with slick tyres on some icy sections,” Rovanperä said
“So it was quite a careful morning. But it was getting better with each stage and the middle stage of the loop was good on both occasions.
“I’ve still got a lot to learn but I’m getting more comfortable in the car all the time. Tomorrow will be a new challenge, with a different style of stages I think, and we need to see what the conditions will be like.”
“It was incredible today to see how the speed that our drivers had straight away in our car. Elfyn’s performance this morning was especially impressive and surprised everybody I think. Tommi Mäkinen, Team Principal said.
“Sébastien wanted to get comfortable and go more step-by-step and now he is showing the performance that we know he’s capable of here.“
“They were both brilliant and made no mistakes at all, and I think they will only improve as they get to know the car better. Mäkinen added.
“Kalle is doing an absolutely brilliant job too, always learning, and when the conditions were more stable his speed was very good.”