Rallye Monte-Carlo 2024 – Day Two Report, Saturday

The second full day of the season opener saw mixed conditions on all six stages. The first also saw frost on the roads. There were 120km’s ahead of the crews, meaning this would be the longest day of the rally. Takamoto would open the road throughout the day. Elfyn held the lead from his teammate, Seb, whilst Thierry was holding third place.

First stage then, SS9 Esparron / Oze 1 – 18.79 km and Andreas who was one of the early crews into the stage slid off the road on the frost losing a few seconds as he got his i20 turned around. Thierry was fastest from Elfyn and Gregoire, who drove really well to his first top three stage time and also moved ahead of Andreas and into sixth place. Surprisingly, Seb was quite off the pace, a full 18.8 seconds slower than the Belgian crew who now moved into second overall. Meanwhile, Elfyn actually had increased his lead by two seconds. In WRC2, Pepe was fastest from Nikolay and Yohan. Nikolay continued to lead, and the gap was just 1.1 seconds between him and Pepe.

Next up was SS10 Les Nonières / Chichilianne 1 – 20.04 km and this stage had not been used since 1997. Yep, twenty-seven years. Seb mastered the stage to go fastest from Thierry and Takamoto. Unfortunately, Elfyn could only manage the eighth best time and fell from the lead to second place with Thierry now in the lead. The top three in WRC2 was still Nikolay from Pepe and Yohan as they continued to dominate the top three positions in the category. Unfortunately, Oliver and Sami both suffered punctures in the stage and whilst Sami could continue, Oliver would have to retire as he did not have a spare after having to use that following the previous stage.

The final stage before service and the lunch break, SS11 Pellafol / Agnières-en-Dévoluy 1 – 21.37 km. Ott and Thierry shared the fastest time and Takamoto was third. The stage was damp in the shaded parts giving the crews some tricky parts to navigate. In WRC2, Yohan was fastest from Nikolay and Pepe. The Spanish crew remained in the lead of the category, just 5.9 seconds ahead of Nikolay.

After the break SS12 Esparron / Oze 2 – 18.79 km was next and Seb was fastest from Thierry and Ott. Meanwhile, Gregoire sadly slid wide on a corner and although his Puma was not damaged, the car was beached on the edge of the road against the barrier, and he could not continue. There was a change in the lead though for WRC2 as Pepe was 10.8 seconds faster than Nikolay and moved past the C3 Rally2 driver. Yohan remained in third place.

There was a change in the overall lead in SS13 Les Nonières / Chichilianne 2 – 20.04 km with Seb showing he’d mastered this stage and pushing Thierry down to second overall. Former leader Elfyn was third in the stage and remained in third place overall, the gap to fourth placed Ott a minute and fifteen seconds. There was no change in WRC2, the top three still Pepe, Nikolay and Yohan.

The final stage of the day then, SS14 Pellafol / Agnières-en-Dévoluy 2 – 21.37 km and Thierry was fastest from Seb and Ott. The Belgian crew retook the lead from Seb and Vincent. Meanwhile Nikolay was also on the move, going 4.9 seconds faster than Pepe and retook the lead of WRC2 by just two tenths of a second. What a hell of a battle we were treated to in both categories.

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

Classification after Saturday

1 T. Neuville M. Wydaeghe Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid 2:37:58.5
2 S. Ogier V. Landais Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid +3.3
3 E. Evans S. Martin Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid +34.9
4 O. Tänak M. Järveoja Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid +1:46.9
5 A. Fourmaux A. Coria Ford Puma Rally1 Hybrid +2:54.0
6 A. Mikkelsen T. Eriksen Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid +4:21.2
7 T. Katsuta A. Johnston Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid +7:34.0

Hyundai Motorsport

Thierry Neuville

“It doesn’t get better than this. The final stage was pure perfection from beginning to end. I could feel the time was great, and Martijn was even telling me during the stage we should keep this rhythm until the end, so I knew it was working. We left this morning in third place with the target to close the gap, but we didn’t expect to be in front so quickly. It is testament to the car working well and the gravel crew doing a great job. They gave me a lot of trust and the opportunity to push harder in that last stage. We only have a three-second advantage so we need to drive fast tomorrow, we can’t risk everything. We need to be clever and see how many points we can get, but if we can keep first place and take the maximum points by being consistent, that would be a great result.”

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 2 of WRC Rallye Monte-Carlo 2024
Photographer: Romain Thuillier
Worldwide copyright: Hyundai Motorsport GmbH

Ott Tänak

“A solid day, altogether not too bad. I have been struggling with my engine again, but we will see tonight what can be done, but I would say it’s definitely holding us back. When we are faster and the stage is flowing, it doesn’t have as great an effect, and we have been improving step-by-step. We have a lot of options available for our tyres, so we can adapt to the situation in the morning. In some ways, the rally starts again tomorrow; we want to score points, but you really need to follow what the others are doing – something to keep an eye on. The notes were good, and the team did a good job with the information about the stages today.”

Andreas Mikkelsen

“I think we’ve improved even more today. There is a lot of things to process as these cars are so different, and I didn’t want to push too much. It felt natural to drive like this today, which is exactly what I wanted to happen. We’re still a bit on the safe side, especially in the tricky places, but I’ve to explore the limit a bit more when the conditions were easier. Even still, there’s plenty of areas where the car can go so much faster, so we’ve still a lot to learn to be at the full potential of the car. A positive day, and I’m gradually getting back in the rhythm.”


Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Sébastien Ogier

“I think it’s been an exciting day for everyone to follow and also for us in the car, we had a lot of fun. The only negative was the first stage this morning where we were too careful and lost quite a bit of time. After that it was a good day with decent pace, we pushed as hard as we could to try and come back into the fight and we are still in this fight. With just a three-second difference I think tomorrow will also be exciting to follow, especially the first stage in the morning which will be a big challenge on the third pass. I’m looking forward to it, let’s try and make it a perfect day.”

Elfyn Evans

“It’s not been the best day for us. The morning was a bit mixed: the first stage was difficult to judge with a lot of black ice, and then in the middle stage we didn’t have the hybrid power, which was not ideal. Then this afternoon we just didn’t seem to have the pace for some reason. We need to look into why. The feeling was not where it was before, but it was also maybe not as bad as the times suggested. Anyway, with the new format tomorrow is sort of a new day and that’s how we’ll treat it, and we’ll try to be ready to fight again.”

Takamoto Katsuta

“I had a very good feeling in the car today. I was able to push more than yesterday, and the times were also looking pretty good. This afternoon there was of course more gravel and mud on the road, and I’m not so comfortable in those conditions so maybe I was not quite on the pace I really wanted. But this gives me more of an understanding of what I need to do for the first stage tomorrow morning. We got back to seventh overall today which should hopefully give us some points and we’ll carry a good feeling and confidence into tomorrow and try to push to score some more.”


The final day sees the crews tackle three stages. It will be a different day of points allocation with the top seven being awarded extra points on top of those secured by the top ten at the end of today.

Of course, the top ten have to finish all the stages tomorrow to be awarded these. Can Seb get past Thierry and take his tenth Monte-Carlo victory?

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