Rallye Monte-Carlo 2024 – Day One Report, Friday.

After two stages on Thursday evening in the dark, the full first day of action got underway in the roads near Gap.

First into the stages throughout the day would be Elfyn and Scott in their GR Yaris Rally1. They held a 15 second lead over second placed Thierry and Martijn with Seb and Vincent holding third.

The first stage of the day and stage three overall, SS3 Saint-Léger-les-Mélèzes / La Bâtie-Neuve 1 – 16.68 km was won by Thierry who reduced the gap to Elfyn to 9.8 seconds. Further back Adrien passed Ott who along with Takamoto and Gregoire went off at the same place, with the Japanese star losing around five to six minutes as the fans tried and then succeeded in getting his GR Yaris back on the stage. Thierry was fastest from Elfyn and Seb. The Welshman saw his lead over the Hyundai crew trimmed a little to 9.8 seconds.

Next up was SS4 Champcella / Saint-Clément 1 – 17.87 km and Elfyn completed the stage and set the early pace. Then Thierry was coming through and 2 seconds up on Elfyn’s pace. It all changed near the end of the stage as the Belgian spun on a left hander, spinning a full 360 degrees, before getting back underway. However, this caused him to lose his time gained earlier and a further nine seconds. Seb came through to set the fastest time from Elfyn and Ott. Meanwhile in WRC2 Pepe Lopez was fastest from Yohan and Nikolay who was doing well and getting to grips with his Citroen C3 Rally2 and led the category by just eight tenths of a second from Pepe and Yohan a further five seconds back.

The final stage before service, SS5 La Bréole / Selonnet 1 – 18.31 km saw the crews tackle the longest stage of the day, which also had a section with ice and snow on the road. Seb was fastest after his teammate set the early pace and Adrien was third in the stage, just six tenths from Elfyn. Seb’s pace took him ahead of Thierry and into second place overall. In WRC2 Pepe was again fastest from Yohan and Nikolay. The Spanish drivers pace took him ahead of Nikolay and into the category lead.

After the lunch time service SS6 Saint-Léger-les-Mélèzes / La Bâtie-Neuve 2 – 16.68 km was next up and Thierry who was fastest in the stage earlier won this stage from Seb and Elfyn. These three remained at the front of the field with Elfyn still leading by a reduced margin of 9.7 seconds. It was all change again in WRC2 with Nikolay moving back ahead into the lead from Pepe. Yohan remained in third place.

Next up was SS7 Champcella / Saint-Clément 2 – 17.87 km and Thierry was fastest from Seb and Elfyn. The Welshman remained in the lead with the gap to his teammate reduced by a further second, whilst Thierry remained in third overall. Once again it was all change again in WRC2 with Pepe moving back into the lead after setting the fastest time. Nikolay was holding second place and Yohan third.

The final stage of the day then, SS8 La Bréole / Selonnet 2 – 18.31 km was run in the night and Seb was quickest again from Thierry and Elfyn who remained in the lead by a reduced margin of just 4.5 seconds from Seb and Thierry now 16.1 seconds from the Welshman. In WRC2 Nikolay was fastest from Yohan and Pepe. Unfortunately, Nikolay gained a 1 minute 50 second penalty for a late start at the stage. He was 11 minutes late to a time control.

Let’s take a look at the top positions and hear from the drivers.

Classification after Friday

1 E. Evans S. Martin Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid 1:25:28.9
2 S. Ogier V. Landais Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid +4.5
3 T. Neuville M. Wydaeghe Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid +16.1
4 O. Tänak M. Järveoja Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid +1:13.6
5 A. Fourmaux A. Coria Ford Puma Rally1 Hybrid +1:38.0
6 A. Mikkelsen T. Eriksen Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid +2:58.9
7 G. Munster L. Louka Ford Puma Rally1 Hybrid +3:27.1

Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Elfyn Evans

“It was a difficult day out there with very mixed conditions. There was a big contrast in grip levels with a lot of dry sections but also some ice in places and a lot of dirt around the place, so that makes it quite tricky. So, it’s been a challenging day and I’m happy to get through it without any issues. The two guys behind have been closing in and driving very quickly but we’re still in a good position. We’ve found ourselves in this kind of position with Seb and Thierry here a few times in the past and it’s nice to be in the fight again. We’ll keep going the way we are, stick to our rhythm and see what happens.”

Sébastien Ogier

“I’m pleased of course that we could manage to fight back a bit today. I was still fearing that we would be at a disadvantage from the road position after struggling a bit last night, but we never give up and it’s very nice to be much closer to the lead now. The last stage of the loop was a difficult one, but it seems like I managed it well today. Still, we will need to drive it once more on Sunday and that will be a big challenge with so much dirt already on the road, but before that we have a long day tomorrow. The rest of the weekend looks interesting and I’m happy to be in this fight.”

Takamoto Katsuta

“The conditions were very tricky this morning and in one corner there was quite a lot of ice. On the entry it had melted quite a bit, so I was carrying a bit more speed, but then in the middle of the corner the ice was very polished. So, I lost grip and was just a passenger and we got stuck in the ditch on the outside. Luckily there were lots of spectators who helped us to get back on the road and continue, but it was very frustrating. I will keep going and try to improve my driving and find a good setup for Sunday. We will still have some opportunities to score points, so this is my target for the moment.”


Hyundai Motorsport

Thierry Neuville

“The speed is there but not everything went without trouble today. The afternoon went well, but the morning was a bit more of a struggle despite our fastest time on the opening stage. We had some trouble after the spin, our steering well was bent, and we lost valuable time to Ogier. We are still within the fight; hopefully we will have a perfect day tomorrow and can get a bit closer to the lead. With only a 16-second gap, we are well within that target.”

2024 FIA World Rally Championship Round 1,
Rallye Monte Carlo 2024, 24-28 January 2024
Thierry Neuville, Martijn Wydaeghe, Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid, Action during Day 1 of WRC Rallye Monte-Carlo 2024
Photographer: Romain Thuillier
Worldwide copyright: Hyundai Motorsport GmbH

Ott Tänak

“It was a consistent day for us. The afternoon was quite solid, although the last stage was a bit more tricky, but other than that it was quite OK. This morning we were carrying maybe a bit too much speed and we paid the price, but the spectators made a good effort to get us back on the road. The car has been running smoothly with no troubles; I’m just trying to find a bit more feeling. I think I’m 80% there, I feel quite relaxed and comfortable in the car.”

Andreas Mikkelsen

“Today we continued our big learning curve from yesterday but there is still so much more room for improvement. It’s getting more natural for me to carry that momentum into corners, so we will build on that tomorrow and try to increase our speed. It’s like night and day compared to what we have been driving for the last four years, and we are not even close to our potential – this is good to know, and something we can explore on Saturday.”


Oliver Solberg

“It’s been a better day,” said Oliver. “This morning was a little bit complicated with some ice around. In some places we were slowing down for some patches of ice which had melted.

“We have a new ice-note crew in Eric [Camilli] and Stéphane [Prévot] and they’re doing a fantastic job for us, but in some places maybe we had a little bit too much detail this morning. Honestly, it’s such a tough job what they do – I wouldn’t want to do it! This afternoon, perfect.

“OK, it’s nice to win the four stages, but I still can’t be completely happy with my driving today. It didn’t feel like it was flowing like I would like. I think we can work some more on the car tonight and maybe find some more speed for tomorrow.

“But this is the Monte, it’s fantastic to be here driving this Škoda. To see so many fans out there in the stages, so many flares and barbecue fires at the side of the road – the atmosphere is always super-cool here.”


The second full day of action sees the crews tackle 120km’s over six stages. Can Elfyn remain in the lead, or will Seb move past his teammate?


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