FIA World Rally ChampionshipWRC2

Ogier Tops Slippery Monza Legacy Opener

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Ogier trails Evans in the championship standings going into this weekend. Photo Credit: Jaanus Ree/Red Bull Content Pool // SI202010080414 // Usage for editorial use only //

Sebastien Ogier leads Rally Monza after the opening stage of the weekend at the damp and slippery Italian circuit.

Ogier, who heads into this weekend with a 14-point deficit to make up on Toyota teammate Elfyn Evans, leads the final round of the season by just 0.5 seconds ahead of Thierry Neuville.

Despite snow having been a factor in the recce yesterday ahead of the final round of the season, the Monza Legacy test saw the crews deal with ever-drying conditions.  

Several drivers did however mention the mud that linked the circuit part of the stage to the outside track being extremely slippery and nearly everyone appeared to struggle on the loose surface.

Ott Tanak needs to outscore his rivals by a huge 29 points if he’s to make it back to back titles. Photo Credit: Jaanus Ree/Red Bull Content Pool

Hyundai driver Neuville was 1.5 seconds faster than reigning champion and teammate Ott Tänak, with both driver still mathematically in the title race, although both need a dramatic change of scenarios if either are to win the 2020 title.

Fourth quickest on the short super special was the aforementioned Evans, who seemed to stuggle on the loose grass that made up part of the stage. He finished three tenths of a second ahead of the third Yaris WRC of Kalle Rovanperä.

Joint sixth went to Esapekka Lappi and Dani Sordo, who both finished 0.7 seconds behind Rovanperä, with Gus Greensmith, Teemu Suninen and Ole Christian Veiby completing the WRC runners.   

Takamoto Katsuta, who again competes with Toyota this weekend, had a disastrous start to the rally and stopped on the 4.33km stage after appearing to break his steering.

The Japanese driver ran too deep into the first corner on the Grand Prix circuit and then, while trying to make up the dropped time, ran wide on the wet and slippery grass and hit a barrier.

Adrien Fourmaux set the fastest WRC2 time after being the driver to open the stage, and the M-Sport Ford driver finished just 0.1 seconds ahead of championship contender Mads Østberg,

Adrien Fourmaux, who has performed strongly since the season resumed, leads WRC2. Photo Credit: Jaanus Ree/Red Bull Content Pool

Østberg, who is fighting with series leader Pontus Tidemand for the title this weekend, finished SS1 1.3 seconds behind Fourmaux with the Citroen driver only managing third fastest in class.

WRC3 saw Finn Jari Huttunen set the fastest time of the stage ahead of former WRC driver Andreas Mikkeselen, with Oliver Solberg third quickest in the class while Sami Pajari set the quickest Junior WRC time on stage one.

Moto GP star Franco Morbidelli, who competes this weekend in a R5-spec Hyundai, was another driver to struggle and lost nearly 30 seconds on the short opening stage of the weekend.  

Rally Monza continues tomorrow with five more stages based around the grounds of the Italian race circuit.

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I'm 23 and studying a Masters in Public Relations at the University of Sunderland after graduating with a Sports Journalism degree last year. I'm one of the co-editors here at TCF and mainly look after the off-road section of the site which covers championships such as the FIA World Rally and World Rallycross series'. Away from writing and studying I have a deep interest in of a lot of different sports as well as trying to be an amateur motorsport photographer and I'm also a big music fan too!
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