The former champion and Vincent Landais took a great victory in the season opener. Here’s the story as to how they seized the lead and made history.
Two evening stages got things started the rally and the startlist was the finishing positions from last season’s championship. Rovanperä, Tänak, Neuville, Evans, Katsuta, Ogier, Sordo, Lappi, Loubet, Serderidis.
First stage then, SS1 La Bollène-Vésubie / Col de Turini 1 – 15.12 km, and Seb took the first stage win from Elfyn and Thierry. Best of the M-Sport drivers was Ott, who was sixth fastest, whilst Esapekka making his first start for Hyundai was eighth fastest. It was great to see Welshman Elfyn right there, just 1.3 seconds from Seb.
Into SS2 La Cabanette / Col de Castillon – 24.90 km and Seb was fastest again, with Elfyn second and Ott third. The 2019 world champions pace lifted them ahead of Thierry and into third overall. In the WRC2 category, Nicolay was building a lead over Stephane, the gap between them just 1.3 seconds.
Let’s hear from the drivers
Toyota Gazoo Racing
“I think we are always happy to get through this first evening in Monte Carlo because we know there can be a lot of surprises. Tonight, there were not so many, but there was still this salty and slippery section at the end of SS1 and this very icy corner in SS2. So it’s good to put that behind us and to be in the lead with two stage wins is always positive. But the gaps are not that big. It’s just the start of this rally and we have to carry on like this tomorrow. There’s a long way to go, we have to keep the focus very high and try to keep this rhythm going and stay out of trouble.”
“It’s always exciting to start Rallye Monte-Carlo in the dark, it’s a pretty special feeling. I managed to settle into a pretty decent rhythm quite early on in the first stage and set a decent time. It was mostly dry but quite slippery towards the top of the Col de Turini. I was a bit more hesitant at some points in the second stage – we found some black ice in one corner which was quite hairy. Overall though it’s been a solid start and a decent evening, with a massive day ahead tomorrow.”
“It has been quite a good start for us. The plan was just to start with a safe pace and we are in the fight with the others, so it’s a good place to continue from tomorrow. SS1 was quite tricky, it’s not really my favourite style of stage and there was even some cleaning at the end for us with quite a lot of salt put down on the road, so those behind us were quite a bit faster there. SS2 was also a clean drive. I was just a bit too careful with my ice notes on a frosty section. But overall, it’s been a pretty nice start.”
M-Sport Ford WRT
“I need to get used to the car, it’s quite different and it’s doing some good things and some things that I’m not used to, let’s see tomorrow. When conditions were a bit tricky I would say that we were driving a bit better and when it was clean and racy we were still a bit behind.
“The first two stages of the rally went OK. I was a bit cautious on the first one, but we had a much better rhythm on the next. We got caught out on the only icy corner, which was not in our notes, and it’s still a question mark where that came from to be honest. I stalled the engine and lost seven-to-eight seconds. Other than that, we had a decent run and felt OK in the car as well. We were fastest up until that point. The last five or six kilometres were a bit of a struggle as tyre performance dropped off, and we lost a bit on the final split because of that.”
“I don’t like to make excuses; we were not on such a good pace today. In the first stage, I was feeling good. I was a bit scared of the tyres, but it was narrow at the beginning and the others pushed hard. The second stage was more or less OK. There was one part in the middle which I took very carefully because they said there was black ice in some places, but in the end, it was only at one corner. So, for one kilometre I lost a lot for no reason. The car looks and feels good; I’m happy so let’s see. We need to catch up a bit but tomorrow is another day.”
“It’s not ideal where we are, but I wouldn’t say there is any drama. The first stage was better than the second. There was an icy corner which I was afraid of; I was expecting ice elsewhere after that and I was just too careful and lost a lot of time. In the end, it was only in one place but when you don’t know, it’s better to take this approach. Still, it’s not a nice feeling to see you’ve lost 30 seconds. We had good grip, and the car turns well, but for some reason I don’t trust enough to keep the speed through the apexes; I need to understand why I’m thinking like that and braking more than I should. There are many new stages to come, and plenty of new opportunities.”
Classification after Day One
|1||S. Ogier||V. Landais||Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid||26:33.7|
|2||E. Evans||S. Martin||Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid||+6.0|
|3||O. Tänak||M. Järveoja||Ford Puma Rally1 Hybrid||+15.4|
|4||T. Neuville||M. Wydaeghe||Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid||+15.5|
|5||K. Rovanperä||J. Halttunen||Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid||+17.1|
|6||D. Sordo||C. Carrera||Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid||+32.1|
|7||P. L. Loubet||N. Gilsoul||Ford Puma Rally1 Hybrid||+40.3|
|8||E. Lappi||J. Ferm||Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid||+41.4|
|9||T. Katsuta||A. Johnston||Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid||+57.0|
|10||N. Gryazin||K. Aleksandrov||Škoda Fabia RS||+1:06.6|
The startlist remained the same from Thursday’s two-night stages.
First up was SS3 Roure / Roubion / Beuil 1 – 18.33 km and Seb was once again fastest from Elfyn whilst Kalle who was third fastest jumped ahead of both Ott and Thierry and into third overall. The Estonian was now in fifth place, but happy with his run through the stage. The WRC2 leader was still Nikolay, but he led from Yohan now who had moved ahead of Stephane.
Into SS4 Puget-Théniers / Saint-Antonin 1 – 19.79 km and Seb was again fastest from Elfyn and Thierry. Kalle was only sixth fastest and dropped two places behind Thierry and Ott. In the WRC2 category, Oliver Solberg, who was not actually competing for championship points was setting a very fast pace and was fastest in that spec of car. However, the leaders were Nikolay, Yohan and Stephane.
SS5 Briançonnet / Entrevaux 1 – 14.55 km was next and Kalle was second fastest from Seb, whilst Thierry was third. The young world champion was back ahead of Ott, but the big shame from this stage was that Elfyn got a puncture and dropped from the lead battle down to fifth overall. Also dropping some positions was Pierre-Louis who was suffering with brake problems when trying to turn the car. He was now in ninth overall. He’d want to climb back up the leaderboard.
Into SS6 Roure / Roubion / Beuil 2 – 18.33 km and Elfyn came back from his disappointing puncture to set the fastest time from his teammates, Seb and Kalle. He was targeting former teammate Ott who was currently in fourth overall and just 10 seconds ahead. Meanwhile Kalle has brought himself up into second overall, passing Thierry. Unfortunately, Pierre-Louis and new co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul were still suffering technical problems this time with the powersteering not working.
Into the penultimate stage of the day then, SS7 Puget-Théniers / Saint-Antonin 2 – 19.79 km and Seb was fastest from Elfyn and Kalle. The Welshman closed the gap to Ott with his pace, reducing it to just a little over four seconds. The top three in the WRC2 remained Nikolay, Yohan and Stephane.
Into the final stage then, SS8 Briançonnet / Entrevaux 2 – 14.55 km and Kalle set the best time from Thierry and Seb. Elfyn could only manage the seventh best time and remained 8.1 seconds behind Ott and in fifth overall. Meanwhile in WRC2 the top three remained the same with Nikolay 29 seconds ahead of second placed Yohan.
Classification after Day Two
|1||S. Ogier||V. Landais||Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid||1:26:39.4|
|2||K. Rovanperä||J. Halttunen||Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid||+36.0|
|3||T. Neuville||M. Wydaeghe||Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid||+37.9|
|4||O. Tänak||M. Järveoja||Ford Puma Rally1 Hybrid||+54.2|
|5||E. Evans||S. Martin||Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid||+1:02.3|
|6||D. Sordo||C. Carrera||Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid||+1:30.2|
|7||T. Katsuta||A. Johnston||Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid||+1:33.1|
|8||E. Lappi||J. Ferm||Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid||+1:57.7|
“It has not been a straightforward day but it has been positive overall; we have arrived back in Monaco tonight with a good lead and that’s what matters. This morning we were without hybrid power for two stages and I knew I had to push very hard and take some risks to compensate for it, and I was surprised that we were still fastest. Thankfully the issue could be fixed before the afternoon and we could benefit from that extra boost once again; we could keep a more normal rhythm and even managed to build our lead a little bit more. It will be a long day tomorrow and we’ll try to drive as clean as possible.”
“Today has been not too bad. Of course, I cannot be fully happy; on the morning loop we lost a bit too much time but the stages were also quite salty and dusty for us running first on the road, so it was not easy. It definitely felt much better this afternoon on the second pass of the stages. We had a lot more grip and the times were also better. It’s good to be in the fight. Seb has been much faster than anybody else so far, but we are still in a close fight with the guys behind so we have to continue to push and see what happens.”
“We had a pretty decent start again this morning; quite similar to last night in that Seb had a small edge and we were just behind him all the time. I had a good feeling in the car, things have been working well and it’s all coming quite naturally. Unfortunately, the puncture just before lunch dropped us down the order. This afternoon we tried our best to claw back what we could, although we didn’t have the best final stage. But there’s still plenty of kilometres to go and we’ll see what we can do tomorrow.”
“I think a good resume for the day would be to say we’ve maximised all we could in the circumstances, especially if we take our tyre choice in the morning into account. We expected better pace in the afternoon but there wasn’t more to find. I tried to push a couple of times, but we were missing a bit. We had very stable conditions between both loops; perhaps the final stage of the day was a bit dirtier than the morning but generally things have been straightforward. Tyre choice has made it more difficult because we’ve had to manage things carefully. Nobody can be truly confident in Monte. Tomorrow is another long day, in fact a longer loop than today, with more abrasive stages and possibly higher temperatures. We hope for a good strategy.”
“We have had the same challenges today as we had on Thursday; I have been too slow everywhere and generally too shy to make the entries of the corners fast enough. The car doesn’t feel too bad but for some reason the times are going away too quickly. We need to find out why. We made some changes throughout the day, and made a good step with the suspension, but we need to find more. We also must consider that we’ve been better on the final stage of the loop maybe because we have more performance left in our tyres. It’s a possibility. We will analyse the data with the engineers this evening; it might be a long night, but we need to try and improve, it’s the only way forward.”
“Honestly speaking, it has been quite a disappointing day. I had a good feeling with the car because the stages were nice to drive and in really good condition; I don’t know why, but we were just too slow. I haven’t had the precision that I needed, and we were losing the same amount of time on each stage. We could make a few adjustments to the car in between stages but it was difficult to get the feeling on the narrow roads and through the slow corners. It hasn’t felt bad; it’s just not been fast, we will try to do something in service, analyse things closely and make some changes to the car. Tomorrow is another day, and we will try to unlock some more speed.”
M-Sport Ford WRT
“In the end it was a consistent day, the comfort is there, but the speed is missing. The grip was improving throughout the day and the stages were getting more racy, not something you’d expect from Monte. We want to improve and find the right direction and find more performance in the car and for sure there are many things that we will see what we can do.”
The second full day of competition would see the top ten reversed with the leaders coming through the stages last. The start list would therefore be reversed and looked like this – Serderidis, Loubet, Lappi, Katsuta, Sordo, Evans, Tänak, Neuville, Rovanperä, Ogier.
SS9 Le Fugeret / Thorame-Haute 1 – 16.80 km was first up and saw Kalle pip Elfyn for the stage win, just six tenths separating the teammates! Seb was third fastest, still over 33 seconds in the lead. One driver on the move up was young Japanese star Takamoto, who passed Dani and moved into sixth overall. The Spanish driver was really struggling out there. However, at least he was still out there. Pierre-Louis lost the rear of his car and hit barrier, damaging his rear suspension and was out for the rest of the day. In WRC2 Nikolay increased his lead to almost 40 seconds over Yohan with a great time just 4.9 slower than Dani Sordo.
Into SS10 Malijai / Puimichel 1 – 17.31 km and Seb hit back with the fastest time from Elfyn and Kalle. In fact, the Welshman’s pace took him ahead of Ott and into fourth overall. The Estonian reported problems with his power steering. Elfyn’s next target was Thierry who was just 19 seconds ahead. Could he catch the Belgian? Meanwhile, EP seemed to be getting to grips with his i20 and was just a little bit off the pace of Thierry and much happier with the changes made to his car overnight.
Kalle took SS11 Ubraye / Entrevaux 1 – 21.78 km from Seb and Elfyn, who actually set the same time. Thierry was only a little slower than Elfyn with the fourth best time, so the gap remained over 18 seconds between them. Meanwhile, Nikolay had increased his lead to almost 45 seconds over Yohan in the WRC2 category.
Thierry won SS12 Le Fugeret / Thorame-Haute 2 – 16.80 km, just denying Elfyn from the fastest time. This was Hyundai’s first fastest time of this season. His teammate, Dani was suffering with hybrid problems and Ott was also continuing to have power steering issues, but they were only where the sections were tight and twisty. Meanwhile, Esapekka got a puncture and dropped some more time.
Thierry made it two out of two, winning SS13 Malijai / Puimichel 2 – 17.31 km from Kalle and Elfyn. The Belgian as opening up the gap to Elfyn a little more. In WRC2, Nikolay had a huge lead over Yohan that was approaching 50 seconds.
Kalle won SS14 Ubraye / Entrevaux 2 – 21.78 km from Thierry and Elfyn, but the big surprise was that Seb lost close to 10 seconds from his erstwhile lead and the gap between them was just 16 seconds. There was drama in WRC2 as well as Nikolay got a puncture and lost 35 seconds to Yohan, the gap was now just 10 seconds!
Classification after Day Three
|1||S. Ogier||V. Landais||Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid||2:15:31.5|
|2||K. Rovanperä||J. Halttunen||Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid||+25.8|
|3||T. Neuville||M. Wydaeghe||Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid||+35.1|
|4||E. Evans||S. Martin||Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid||+57.6|
|5||O. Tänak||M. Järveoja||Ford Puma Rally1 Hybrid||+1:20.8|
|6||T. Katsuta||A. Johnston||Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid||+2:05.8|
|7||D. Sordo||C. Carrera||Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid||+2:38.7|
|8||E. Lappi||J. Ferm||Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid||+2:59.1|
Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT
“It has been another good day. I knew that today’s stages had the greatest risks in terms of cutting and in our position, I didn’t want to take any risks. You get nothing extra for stage wins and we had a gap that we just had to manage. I accepted that we would lose some time and just minimised the risks. It was a very clean drive and that was the plan and I’m happy to get to the end of the day. Kalle did a very good job today and we are now in a strong position to score a one-two for the team. But there are still four stages to go tomorrow and we have to finish the job.”
“Today has been really good for us. This morning we were straightaway able to set good times. It felt a bit easier starting further down the road order, as there was a bit more grip on the racing line. The car has been feeling good and we’ve not really had to make any changes to the setup. This afternoon I was struggling a bit more when the road was really dirty. But the last stage in the dark was definitely a good one; it was a bit cleaner and I tried to push. Tomorrow’s stages are maybe not my favourites and Seb knows them so well that I don’t think there’s a chance to catch him. I’m sure he will be fast and there are not so many places to make differences. We’ll just try to maintain our pace and our position.”
“It’s been a long day but a pretty good day overall. I’ve enjoyed the driving and the feeling in the car. This morning we didn’t take as many soft tyres as the others and with today’s stages being quite abrasive, we suffered a bit towards the end of the loop. This afternoon we gave away a little bit of time in the dirtier conditions which was slightly frustrating. I could feel myself just not quite taking the risks needed to go really quickly. Tomorrow we’ll have some nice stages and we’ll see what the weather brings for the final day.”
“I think we have improved; we have been capable of setting some good times. We are still in third and it has required a bit of a push on today’s stages. We gave a lot on both loops and there wasn’t much more we could do. We’re now 16 seconds behind Kalle. I don’t think we can catch him on pure speed, I think we are a bit below, but we are going to continue to try, nonetheless. Essentially, the car has been moving too much in the dry conditions. Tomorrow, we will have another run of Col de Turini, this time in daylight; it’s going to be fun!”
“We have had some issues with the hybrid system today, but I am realistic enough to know we have generally not been on the pace we wanted to be this weekend. We have tried to make some changes to find improvements, but we haven’t found anything yet to unlock the solution. I haven’t had the feeling I need to get the confidence for these stages. I was hoping to be more on the top, but we haven’t been, which is disappointing. Hopefully, tomorrow might bring something different but we’ll have to wait and see.”
“A much more positive day. We managed to find some settings overnight that were better for me. Like I said before, it didn’t feel bad, but the times were not there. Today, I started driving the same way as on Friday, but the car told me I could go faster, and it was safer to push harder. That’s why the times suddenly improved. We’re not winning stages or matching Thierry’s times, but we are way closer than before, which is a very promising direction. I still haven’t found the limit but there’s now much more potential. The objective is to keep improving from here.”
M-Sport Ford WRT
“The last stage meant the problem was quite manageable, (commenting on his power steering problem) and the last stage was more bumpy and affected it more, but not a full failure and basically just heavy steering. Some internal issue so nothing we can do at the moment.”
The final day then with nearly 68km’s over four stages and Pierre-Louis was back out with his repaired Puma and starting first on the road. He was just out there to gain experience for the future.
Seb started off well winning SS15 Lucéram / Lantosque 1 – 18.82 km from Elfyn and Kalle. It was a very good time that saw the Frenchman pull away from Kalle. In the WRC2 category, Yohan was fastest from Nikolay and now the gap between them was just five and a half seconds. Stephane was also on the move passing Pepe Lopez for third place in the category.
Onto SS16 La Bollène-Vésubie / Col de Turini 2 – 15.12 km and Kalle was fastest from Seb and Thierry. Elfyn could only manage the sixth best time as he suffered a spin on one of the many hairpins in the stage. He commented that he thought something had broken and that when he came off the throttle, that the car just rotated around. In WRC2 Nikolay was still leading by just 4.7 seconds from Yohan after the Frenchman was fastest in the stage. There was drama though for American Sean Johnston in his C3 rally2 as he lost control at the top of the Col du Turini and hit the wall which led to his car spinning and getting quite badly damaged. He and his co-driver Alex emerged fine.
Seb took SS17 Lucéram / Lantosque 2 – 18.82 km from Takamoto and Kalle. Esapekka set a great time going fifth fastest, just half a second behind Thierry. It seemed that the Finn was getting in the right pace on his first competitive outing in the i20. Unfortunately, Pierre-Louis suffered a mechanical failure on the road section and retired from the rally.
The final stage then, SS18 La Bollène-Vésubie / Col de Turini 3[Power Stage] – 15.12 km and early pacesetter Ott was denied by Kalle by just six tenths of a second and he took the stage win and maximum points for the stage win. Elfyn, Thierry and Seb rounded out the top five fastest times in the stage and took the remaining points.
Meanwhile Seb Ogier had taken his ninth Rallye Monte Carlo and Vincent Landais his first! Rounding out the podium was Kalle and Thierry.
Final Overall Classification –Rallye Monte Carlo
|1||S. Ogier||V. Landais||Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid||3:12:02.0|
|2||K. Rovanperä||J. Halttunen||Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid||+18.8|
|3||T. Neuville||M. Wydaeghe||Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid||+44.6|
|4||E. Evans||S. Martin||Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid||+1:12.4|
|5||O. Tänak||M. Järveoja||Ford Puma Rally1 Hybrid||+2:34.9|
|6||T. Katsuta||A. Johnston||Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid||+3:32.6|
|7||D. Sordo||C. Carrera||Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid||+3:47.5|
|8||E. Lappi||J. Ferm||Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid||+3:51.3|
|9||N. Gryazin||K. Aleksandrov||Škoda Fabia RS||+10:03.4|
|10||Y. Rossel||A. Dunand||Citroën C3 Rally2||+10:07.9|
“It has been a perfect weekend. This rally means a lot to me and to win it is always something very special, so I’m going to really enjoy it. I think I can be proud of myself and proud of my team. It’s been quite a dominant weekend for the team. Toyota once again provided us with fantastic tools so thanks to them. It’s an amazing way to launch the season with a one-two finish and it was a strong performance from Kalle as well. Yesterday was hard for my nerves; I knew I could go faster but I didn’t want to take risks at all. Today I knew it was more about pure driving and could enjoy the end of the rally. I’m so happy for Vincent as well. It’s his first WRC win and he deserves it so much; he has done a perfect job to my right-hand side in only our second rally together.”
“I have to say we are really happy with this weekend. There was a bit more road cleaning for us to do in the beginning of the rally than I had expected, so we lost a lot of time there, but after that the pace was really good. When we had a clean road, we had the same pace as everybody else, we were fighting for the top times, and finally we could also take full points on the Power Stage so we have really good points to start our season. The team has done a great job with the car; I think all of us were fast and quite confident in the car. Big congratulations to Seb: he’s the master of Monte Carlo.”
“Overall, the weekend has been a positive one for us. It’s been a pretty good one in terms of pace and we probably had the potential to achieve a bit more. Some frustration on Friday put us out of contention for the podium but that’s rallying and the way it goes sometimes. After that, fourth was probably the best we could have done and the gap to third was just a bit too big. Still it’s solid points to start the season and a decent performance. The car was working really well; the team have been working hard and it shows in the overall result here.”
“I’m happy to finish this rally and score some points at the beginning of the season. The conditions were a bit more consistent than the typical conditions for Rallye Monte-Carlo and when the grip level was high like on Friday, I could feel I was getting more confident and comfortable in the car. Saturday was trickier for me, as there was more cutting and more dirt on the road. Where you needed to take risks, I was maybe taking it a bit too easy. This is an area where I still need to improve but I learned many things. On Sunday I wanted to push in the final stage but something happened and we had an impact with a rock face. Thankfully we could finish and hopefully when I have a similar opportunity next time, I can push all the way to the end.”
“I gave everything I could this weekend and while we would have preferred to be much more in the fight for victory, it is still a good start into a new season, especially compared to last year. The speed was not that great, but it also wasn’t too bad, so there’s no need to be too alarmed. We had more tyre wear that the others and even taking risks we weren’t in a position to match the lead times. We had to be clever, which we were, and we kept the car on the road. In the end, it’s great to be back on the podium in Monte-Carlo. Sweden will be an entirely different type of event and we should be in the game.”
“Honestly, this weekend has not been to our standards or expectations. We had a lot of problems with the hybrid yesterday, and again on today’s final stages. I know the team has done all it can to give me a car to perform better. It’s disappointing to have the problems, but we have tackled things well as a team and can look forward with some encouragement. I have enjoyed myself a bit more today and the times have also been better considering the issues – that’s a positive, at least.”
“We have gathered important mileage this weekend and made some steps forward. On tarmac, you need to be smart if you want to make the times faster. You must get the indication from the car that you can drive it faster. I think we did just that this weekend. We saw we were not on the pace, so we slowly developed ourselves and made some progress. We are now much better prepared for Croatia, the next tarmac event. There are just small details we need to work on to be as fast as we want to be. This is the trickiest thing because the level is so high, you need perfection to match the top times.”
M-Sport Ford WRT
“Generally, it was a good weekend, we have learnt plenty and got some good mileage as well. There are things we need to improve, and just look to be more consistent and gain some speed. The Power Stage definitely shows that it could be possible to be competitive in this car, but we need to find a better balance so we can drive fast.”
“I think the pace during the rally was strong, even on Sunday morning after restarting. We have shown that we have the pace to keep up with the guys at the front, so we have to keep that confidence and not give up.
“From my side, the car was fantastic to drive. On dry Tarmac in Monte-Carlo, the car is incredible and it felt really good. There are some points for improvement, but in general it was a great experience. I think the pace is better than last year, we have seen some progress and we can look to fight for a podium on gravel later in the year.”
Well, it was an odd Rallye Monte Carlo for sure. The lack of ice and snow on the roads certainly made for a more predictable rally. Pirelli brought the usual four types of tyres, but the snow and studded tyres were not used at all. Of course the guy with the most experience came through and took the victory and I suspect this was the case due the amount or should I say the lack of tyres available to the crews. I’d say that without the puncture for Elfyn, he’d have been in the fight for second place with his young teammate. It was not a surprise to see Thierry on the podium. He’s won this rally in the past and shown good pace over the years as well in this event.
In WRC2 there was late drama as Nikolay Gryazin was given a five second penalty and as he only led by 4.5 seconds at the end of the rally, Yohan Rossel took the win accordingly. The Skoda driver gained this penalty after being penalised for cutting a corner in stage 14 at the end of Saturday.
The next event is Rally Sweden which is held from the 9th to the 12th of February. My preview will be published shortly.