Toyota’s Sebastien Ogier finished Rally Monte Carlo’s second day with a 1.2-second lead over team-mate Elfyn Evans. The two Toyota drivers won five of Friday’s six stages, Evans dominating the first three in the morning before Ogier fought back on the afternoon loop.
Evans’ showed incredible pace to take the lead on Stage 4 after starting the day 25.4s behind overnight leader, Thierry Neuville. The Welshman’s performance was overshadowed by a massive accident for Ott Tanak and Martin Jarveoja. The 2019 champions left the road in sixth gear after hitting a compression in their Hyundai i20 WRC on Stage 4. Thankfully the pair were unharmed and passed medical checks after the accident. The car has since been retired from the event.
There was drama even before Tanak’s crash as an icy section on the day’s first stage, Curbans – Venterol, caused trouble for Neuville, Ogier, and Tanak. They all slid wide under braking into the same left-hander, Ogier and Tanak collided with the bank on the side of the road. The same section put an end to Gus Greensmith’s day as he pirouetted his Ford Fiesta WRC into a ditch on the inside of the corner.
After his sensational drive on Thursday night Neuville struggled to find a similar pace on Friday’s stages, eventually finishing the day in third. He stalled his Hyundai on the first stage of the day and admitted he was struggling with his tyre choice. His lead was cut by 14 seconds on the opener before losing it to Evans on the following stage. The Belgian won the day’s final stage to finish the day 6.4s off the lead.
“I had a good stage,” said Neuville. “We were fighting a bit today with the corrections from the gravel crew. Not an easy day for us and it is disappointing.”
Sebastien Loeb sits comfortably in fourth position just over a minute behind the leaders and 50s in front of M-Sport’s leading driver, Esapekka Lappi. Kalle Rovanpera is a further 20s behind in sixth place.
After glimpses of brilliance from Neuville and Evans on Thursday and Friday it’s Monte-Carlo expert, Ogier, who goes into Saturday with a slender advantage. Saturday’s first stage starts at 0938 local time as Evans and Neuville hope to regain the rally lead from their French rival.
Image: Jaanus Ree / Red Bull Media