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
Load comments
The 'Cumbrian Maranello' where Ford's WRC giants are born Plus

The 'Cumbrian Maranello' where Ford's WRC giants are born

M-Sport is changing the game as a World Rally Championship powerhouse, inspired by Ferrari's legendary Formula 1 base. Autosport was afforded a behind-the-scenes look at its new headquarters, the result of a vision that has taken three decades to be realised, where its new Rally1 Puma took shape

WRC
13 h
The WRC star that's earned the right to lead M-Sport's revival Plus

The WRC star that's earned the right to lead M-Sport's revival

Part-time opportunities with Citroen and Hyundai have offered brief glimpses of what Craig Breen can do in a World Rally Championship car. Now signed up by M-Sport to lead it into the WRC's new hybrid era, Breen has been given the chance he's pursued for so long and is determined to make the most of it

WRC
Jan 18, 2022
Why the WRC's 'modern Group B' era was rallying at its bonkers best Plus

Why the WRC's 'modern Group B' era was rallying at its bonkers best

The World Rally Championship has brought down the curtain on the aggressive, aero-laden generation of cars first introduced in 2017 that have been likened to the 1980s Group B icons. As the championship prepares to begin a new era of Rally1 hybrid cars, its stars explain just why the outgoing machines were so special

WRC
Dec 24, 2021
Ranking the top 10 WRC drivers of 2021 Plus

Ranking the top 10 WRC drivers of 2021

On the eve of a new hybrid era for the World Rally Championship, the 2021 season was a blockbuster fought out between Toyota's two top dogs, with a familiar figure eventually emerging on top after a final showdown at Monza. Autosport picks out the 10 best performers from the top class and its supporting cast

WRC
Dec 21, 2021
Why Ogier's WRC swansong was a season to savour Plus

Why Ogier's WRC swansong was a season to savour

He’s shuffling into semi-rally-retirement, but Toyota star Sebastien Ogier was at the peak of his powers in the final season for the high downforce era-World Rally Championship cars. Despite Toyota's domination, there was still much to enjoy as the old master emerged atop a fierce title fight against team-mate Elfyn Evans

WRC
Dec 19, 2021
How WRC legend Ogier will be remembered by his peers Plus

How WRC legend Ogier will be remembered by his peers

After winning his eighth WRC title, Sebastien Ogier has drawn the curtain on his full-time rallying career. To understand Ogier's legacy, many of his former rivals, team-mates and colleagues have shared their thoughts on a vastly successful career

WRC
Nov 26, 2021
Ranking lost WRC legend Richard Burns' 10 best rallies Plus

Ranking lost WRC legend Richard Burns' 10 best rallies

Richard Burns was a determined driver who took on the best rally drivers in the world during a boom period in the early 2000s, and beat them. On the 20th anniversary of his crowning glory in winning the 2001 WRC title, and 16 years on from his death on the same date, Autosport picks out his 10 greatest drives

WRC
Nov 25, 2021
The internal focus that made Burns a legendary world rally champion Plus

The internal focus that made Burns a legendary world rally champion

At the turn of the millennium, WRC was full to the brim with rallying's great and good - and 20 years ago on this day, Richard Burns became England's first world rally champion. Although Burns' natural talent drove him to the top, his steely determination and mental strength was the key attribute behind his title-winning form

WRC
Nov 25, 2021