Elfyn Evans held onto his Monte Carlo Rally lead after a battling day in French Alps.

Elfyn Evans Ready To Give It Full Monte As He Gets To Grips With Rally Rivals

By Gareth James

Elfyn Evans retained his lead on the Monte Carlo Rally as he led a Toyota one-two on the season opening event.

The 35-year-old produced a series of consistent stage times – never finishing outside the top three – on the first full day of the rally.

Evans, who won both stages on Thursday to open up a 15 seconds lead, finished with a 4.5 secs advantage over Sebastien Ogier.

“It was a difficult day out there with very mixed conditions,” said the Dolgellau ace. “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.”

Ogier began the day third overall and claimed his first stage win of the rally in SS4 by one second over Evans, before a stunning time in SS5 where he was 11.2s faster than anyone else. That promoted him up to second place and within 10.7s of his team-mate at the end of the morning loop.

The GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID pair were closely matched in the first two stages of the afternoon, before Ogier recorded another stage win in the dark final test to further close the gap.

But close behind is Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) who is just 11.6s behind Ogier with six more stages to come in the French Alps on Saturday.

Toyota Team Principal Jari-Matti Latvala said: “It’s been a very good day from both Elfyn and Seb today. Elfyn was maybe stronger to begin with this morning and then Seb came on better and closed the gap.

“Thierry is keeping the pressure on as well, and it’s exciting for everybody when we have a close fight like this going into the third day of the rally.

“The conditions are not easy because when it’s dry the speeds are getting very high, and then when you hit an icy place it’s harder to understand how slow you have to go. That’s why we saw so much drama in one icy corner this morning.”

Monte Carlo Rally Top 10:

1 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) 1h25m28.9s
2 Sébastien Ogier/Vincent Landais (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) +4.5s
3 Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 HYBRID) +16.1s
4 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 HYBRID) +1m13.6s
5 Adrien Fourmaux/Alexandre Coria (Ford Puma Rally1 HYBRID) +1m38.0s
6 Andreas Mikkelsen/Torstein Eriksen (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 HYBRID) +2m58.9s
7 Grégoire Munster/Louis Louka (Ford Puma Rally1 HYBRID) +3m27.1s
8 Nikolay Gryazin/Konstantin Aleksandrov (Citroën C3 Rally2) +5m18.9s
9 Pepe López/David Vázquez (Škoda Fabia RS Rally2) +5m20.2s
10 Yohan Rossel/Arnaud Dunand (Citroën C3 Rally2) +5m25.1s

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