Ogier snatches Rallye Monte-Carlo lead from Toyota team-mate Evans on Friday afternoon

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At the end of the first full day of Rallye Monte-Carlo, Toyota has dominated the action by winning all the stages except for the last one.

The Japanese-Finnish squad occupies the top of the leader board, with seven-time Monte winner Sébastien Ogier at the top, who holds a tight 1.2-second advantage of over his team-mate Elfyn Evans. Thierry Neuville is on their heels, a further 5.2sec behind.

Lacking a bit of confidence in the morning, the Frenchman adapted to his car by making changes to the set-up and fought back in this afternoon’s drier conditions to edge ahead, setting the fastest stage time in SS6 and SS7.

His team-mate Evans had led throughout Friday, winning all three speed tests in the morning and maintaining the lead up until SS8. But the Welshman was demoted to second place in the day’s final stage, having taken a more cautious approach on the dirtier roads this afternoon.

Neuville, 5.2sec behind, described his day as frustrating but said that his feeling was gradually getting better. The Belgian is confident about his chances to battle for the lead tomorrow.

The fight between the top three is very close, while Hyundai’s Sébastien Loeb is over a minute behind them. The nine-time World Champion, who admitted that he simply couldn’t match their pace, holds a safe fourth position, as Esapekka Lappi – M-Sport Ford’s best-placed driver - is 50sec behind him.

19-year-old WRC youngster Kalle Rovanperä showed an excellent performance on his first full day of competition in a World Rally Car, which included a fourth-fastest time on SS7. The Finn ended Friday in sixth overall at the wheel of the Toyota Yaris, 22sec behind Loeb.

From there, there is a big gap of almost three minutes to Japan’s Takamoto Katsuta in seventh, making
his Monte debut in the Yaris WRC as he is getting experience in the championship.

Three R5 Citroën C3 round up the top 10. France’s Eric Camilli, in eighth overall, is the FIA WRC 3 leader, in spite of earlier braking problem. Fellow countryman Nicolas Ciamin is the class’s runner-up in ninth, while Norway’s Mads Østberg in tenth is the leader of the FIA WRC 2 category for factory-supported drivers, after Hyundai’s Ole-Christian Veiby picked up a puncture.

Tomorrow, the crews will tackle the longest distance of the rally, with 512 kilometres behind the wheel, including four stages totalling 75.20km of competitive action, as they make their way from Gap to Monaco.

2020 Rallye Monte-Carlo - Unofficial results after Section Three:

Pos. Driver / Co-Driver Car Time

1. Sébastien Ogier (FRA) / Julien Ingrassia (FRA)

Toyota Yaris WRC 1hr 43min 31.5sec
2 2. Elfyn Evans (GBR) / Scott Martin (GBR) Toyota Yaris WRC 1hr 43min 32.7sec
3 3. Thierry Neuville (BEL) / Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL) Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC 1hr 43min 37.9sec
4 4. Sébastien Loeb (FRA) / Daniel Elena (MNC) Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC 1hr 44min 38.4sec
5 5. Esapekka Lappi (FIN) / Janne Ferm (FIN) Ford Fiesta WRC 1hr 45min 28.7sec
6 6. Kalle Rovanperä (FIN) / Jonne Halttunen (FIN) Toyota Yaris WRC 1hr 45min 50.7sec
7 7. Takamoto Katsuta (JAP) / Daniel Barritt (GBR) Toyota Yaris WRC 1hr 48min 50.2sec
8 8. Eric Camilli (FRA) / F. Buresi (FRA) - FIA WRC3 Citroën C3 1hr 51min 37.7sec
9 9. Nicolas Ciamin (FRA) / Y. Roche (FRA) - FIA WRC 3 Citroën C3 1hr 52min 35.5sec
10 10. Mads Østberg (NOR) / T. Eriksen (NOR) - FIA WRC 2 Citroën C3 1hr 523min 08.7sec