Thierry Neuville dominated rivals Sebastien Ogier and Ott Tanak on an icey second stage to finish day one of Rally Monte Carlo with a 19.1 second lead.
Ogier made a perfect start in his new Toyota Yaris WRC, winning a dry Stage 1 before dropping to second after Neuville’s impressive SS2 win.
Reigning World Champion Tanak made a solid start to his season with a second and third fastest time in his Hyundai. The Estonian opened the road on both stages, and was the first to tackle the ice covered asphalt which started around four minutes into SS2.
“I am happy to be alive,” exclaimed Tanak after SS2. “That was more of a challenge than I expected.”
M-Sport’s evening went from bad to worse as Teemu Suninen and Gus Greensmith both encountered problems on the second stage. All three Ford Fiesta WRCs had overheating engines on Stage 1 due to a build-up of leaves on the front of their engine grilles.
The crews go back to Gap tonight before starting the first of six stages tomorrow at 0836 local time.