WRC Monza: Evans grabs lead to increase pressure on Ogier

Toyota’s Elfyn Evans has grabbed the Rally Monza lead to increase the pressure on his World Rally Championship title rival team-mate Sebastien Ogier.

WRC Monza: Evans grabs lead to increase pressure on Ogier

Evans managed to transform a 6.5s deficit from the morning’s mountain stage loop into a 1.4s lead over Ogier after starring in the afternoon stages, held at the famous Monza grand prix circuit.

Sitting second, Ogier remains in the box seat to secure an eighth world title in his final full-time WRC event but is under more pressure should the Frenchman, who holds a 17-point lead over Evans, slip up.

Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville ended the day in third after notching up a win in stage 6 but the Belgian is 21.6s behind the championship fighting Toyotas.

Dani Sordo enjoyed a clean run to fourth ahead his impressive rookie Hyundai team-mate Oliver Solberg, whom he will share the Korean marque’s third entry next season. Solberg has produced arguably his best display to date in a WRC car.

Toyota’s Takamoto Katsuta, Hyundai’s Ott Tanak stand-in, Teemu Suninen, M-Sport’s Gus Greensmith and Toyota’s Kalle Rovanpera filled sixth through to ninth. Rovanpera’s surprising pace is the result of been asked not to push by his team to allow Evans and Ogier to fight without the worry of needing to score manufacturer points to secure the constructors' title.

M-Sport’s Adrien Fourmaux retired from Friday’s action after a crash on stage 3, but is set to return on Saturday.

Evans scythed into Ogier’s lead in the first of three stages using the Monza grand prix circuit, famous historic banking and gravel service roads.

The Welshman completed a clean run through the tricky 14.49km test, ending 5.7s quicker than rival Ogier, who was battling a brake issue.

"It's very difficult to know how to apply yourself,” said Evans. “Do you brake late or early? It's such a lottery in a way. The conditions seem to be okay but it's very difficult to know.”

Sébastien Ogier, Julien Ingrassia, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota Yaris WRC

Sébastien Ogier, Julien Ingrassia, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota Yaris WRC

Photo by: Toyota Racing

Hyundai’s Sordo emerged as Evans’ nearest rival ending the blast only 0.3s adrift in what developed into a hotly contested stage.

Team-mate Thierry Neuville showed strong pace despite a gearbox issue to clock the third fastest time,1.2s in arrears, while Solberg continued to shine in fourth on the stage timesheets.

Toyota’s Takamoto Katsuta, who claimed his first stage win in the Power Stage at the Monza circuit last year, seemed set for another stage win, before stalling his Yaris at a tight left hairpin. The Japanese ended up fifth while Ogier could only manage the sixth fastest time.

Evans almost repeated the Stage 5 success in the second run through the Cinturato stage, but he did enough to wrestle the overall lead away from Ogier.

However, the Welshman was denied another stage win by 0.4s as Neuville took the honours fresh from a resolved gearbox problem.

"It was a good stage, but I got caught a little bit in the grass in the exit of a tight hairpin and I was spinning the wheels,” said Neuville.

“Obviously the speed isn't there as it should, so we are trying different things on the car to see if we can do something.”

Ogier was much happier with the feeling of his Yaris but was 2.5s shy of the pace, while Solberg clocked the fourth fastest stage time for the second test in succession.

"We had an issue on the first pass - a brake issue,” said Ogier. “The car stayed on the brakes for the whole stage. This one was okay and it was more consistent for me.”

Thierry Neuville, Martijn Wydaeghe, Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC

Thierry Neuville, Martijn Wydaeghe, Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC

Photo by: Austral / Hyundai Motorsport

Evans completed his strong afternoon by pipping Ogier and Neuville by 0.1s over the tricky 10km an all-asphalt circuit test, with the added challenge of driving in darkness.

The spoils however belonged to Sordo, who prevented Toyota’s Takamoto Katsuta a sixth stage win by 2.2s, while Evans was third fastest.

"We made a small change in the direction of my car [to how it was] in Catalunya," said Sordo. "Already when I finished the stage, I told my co-driver it's much better. It's a small change, but it's a big change."

Rally Monza continues on Saturday with crew set to tackle a further six stages.

WRC Monza - Classification after SS6

Cla Driver/Codriver Total Time Gap Interval
1 United Kingdom Elfyn Evans
United Kingdom Scott Martin
58'42.900    
2 France Sébastien Ogier
France Julien Ingrassia
58'44.200 1.300 1.300
3 Belgium Thierry Neuville
Belgium Martijn Wydaeghe
59'04.400 21.500 20.200
4 Spain Dani Sordo
Candido Carrera
59'15.900 33.000 11.500
5 Sweden Oliver Solberg
United Kingdom Elliott Edmondson
59'34.600 51.700 18.700
6 Japan Takamoto Katsuta
Aaron Johnston
59'49.800 1'06.900 15.200
7 United Kingdom Gus Greensmith
Sweden Jonas Andersson
1:00'07.500 1'24.600 17.700
8 Finland Teemu Suninen
Finland Mikko Markkula
1:00'14.900 1'32.000 7.400
9 Finland Kalle Rovanperä
Finland Jonne Halttunen
1:00'33.800 1'50.900 18.900
10 France Yohan Rossel
Jacques-Julien Renucci
1:02'47.100 4'04.200 2'13.300
shares
comments

Related video

Fourmaux expects to rejoin WRC Rally Monza after roll
Previous article

Fourmaux expects to rejoin WRC Rally Monza after roll

Next article

Ogier: "Only danger" is myself in WRC title fight on Rally Monza

Ogier: "Only danger" is myself in WRC title fight on Rally Monza
How trailblazer Kalle Rovanpera has ripped up the WRC record book Plus

How trailblazer Kalle Rovanpera has ripped up the WRC record book

At the tender age of 22, Kalle Rovanpera is redefining what’s possible to achieve in rallying and inspiring a new legion of fans as a result. The newly-crowned World Rally Championship title-winner and his peers reflect on his ability and the start of his success in the top tier

WRC
Nov 26, 2022
How Hyundai and Neuville gatecrashed Toyota's homecoming party Plus

How Hyundai and Neuville gatecrashed Toyota's homecoming party

Thierry Neuville signed off the 2022 World Rally Championship season with his second win of the season in Japan after Toyota rival Elfyn Evans suffered a late puncture. With Sebastien Ogier and Kalle Rovanpera also delayed by punctures and incidents, it opened the door for Neuville and Ott Tanak to record Hyundai's second 1-2 of the season in Toyota's own backyard

WRC
Nov 14, 2022
The message a WRC stalwart sent which its new king couldn’t answer Plus

The message a WRC stalwart sent which its new king couldn’t answer

Sebastien Ogier might be the outgoing World Rally champion, but it didn’t stop him reminding everyone of the skills that made him an eight-time world champion. As victory at Rally Spain led Toyota’s charge to a titles clean sweep, it did pose a question to newly-crowned champion Kalle Rovanpera which he could not answer

WRC
Oct 24, 2022
Autosport gets to grips as a WRC co-driver Plus

Autosport gets to grips as a WRC co-driver

The majority of headlines may focus on the exploits of drivers in the World Rally Championship, but the challenges facing their co-drivers are no less demanding. Autosport got in the passenger seat with Toyota Gazoo Racing to find out just what it takes to succeed

WRC
Oct 6, 2022
How Rally New Zealand encapsulated record-breaking Rovanpera’s WRC title charge Plus

How Rally New Zealand encapsulated record-breaking Rovanpera’s WRC title charge

Kalle Rovanpera’s coronation as the new World Rally Championship king had been a long time coming, only to be postponed by hiccups in Belgium and Greece. But at Rally New Zealand the “Full Send” Finn demonstrated exactly how he's been able to rewrite the rallying record book as he stormed to victory to become the youngest ever world champion

WRC
Oct 3, 2022
How a Toyota lifeline reignited Lappi's WRC career Plus

How a Toyota lifeline reignited Lappi's WRC career

Motorsport can be brutal at times. One moment a driver can be the next big thing, but it can spiral in the other direction so quickly. Thankfully, sometimes drivers receive second chances. And Esapekka Lappi has taken his World Rally Championship lifeline in both hands

WRC
Sep 28, 2022
How team orders could make Hyundai's historic Acropolis Rally a Greek tragedy Plus

How team orders could make Hyundai's historic Acropolis Rally a Greek tragedy

Thierry Neuville led a maiden Hyundai 1-2-3 in the World Rally Championship, as the previously soft i20 N became a battle-hardened Greek warrior at the Acropolis Rally. But with team orders in play between the winner and Hyundai’s title protagonist Ott Tanak, could the result come back to haunt the team?

WRC
Sep 12, 2022
How Tanak triumphed amid a series of Belgium WRC blunders Plus

How Tanak triumphed amid a series of Belgium WRC blunders

After runaway World Rally Championship leader Kalle Rovanpera made his first major mistake of the season, the chance to take advantage was wide open for the chasing pack. Several of his rivals faltered to grasp the opportunity, but Ott Tanak made no such mistake and demonstrated his class with a third win of the campaign

WRC
Aug 22, 2022