The TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team has achieved a double podium on Rallye Monte-Carlo, the first event with its all-new driver line-up.
Sébastien Ogier and Elfyn Evans finished second and third respectively after strong performances on their Toyota Yaris WRC debuts, even though they ultimately missed out on victory in a three-way final-day fight. Rookie driver Kalle Rovanperä rounded out a positive weekend for the team with a fine fifth place on his debut at rallying’s highest level.
Quickly up to speed in their new cars, Ogier and Evans traded the lead with each other from Friday morning until Saturday afternoon. Evans led into the final day’s four stages with an advantage of 4.9 seconds over his team-mate. But their third-placed rival was only 1.5s further back, and posted a string of fastest times to ultimately deny the Toyota duo.
Ogier edged Evans for second overall on the rally-ending Power Stage, where he just missed out on the fastest time by 0.012 seconds. His second place together with co-driver Julien Ingrassia represents a strong beginning to his bid for a seventh world title this season. Evans―co-driven by Scott Martin―meanwhile acheived his best ever Rallye Monte-Carlo finish, after challenging for his second career victory.
Rovanperä―who at 19-years-old is the youngest ever full-time factory driver in the WRC―moved up to fifth place with co-driver Jonne Halttunen on the final day to round out an impressively mistake-free and mature performance in the demanding conditions.
Takamoto Katsuta made it four Toyota Yaris WRCs in the top seven with his best finish to-date at the start of an eight-round campaign with the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Rally Challenge Program, navigated by Dan Barritt.
FINAL RESULT, RALLYE MONTE-CARLO
- 1Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)3h10m57.6s
- 2 Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Toyota Yaris WRC)+12.6s
- 3 Elfyn Evans / Scott Martin (Toyota Yaris WRC)+14.3s
- 4 Esapekka Lappi / Janne Ferm (Ford Fiesta WRC)+3m09.0s
- 5 Kalle Rovanperä / Jonne Halttunen (Toyota Yaris WRC)+4m17.2s
- 6 Sébastien Loeb / Daniel Elena (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)+5m04.7s
- 7 Takamoto Katsuta / Daniel Barritt (Toyota Yaris WRC)+11m27.9s
- 8 Eric Camilli / François-Xavier Buresi (Citroën C3 R5)+13m42.2s
- 9 Mads Østberg / Torstein Eriksen (Citroën C3 R5)+14m21.8s
- 10 Nicolas Ciamin / Yannick Roche (Citroën C3 R5)+15m04.0s