Sébastien Ogier recorded the fastest time in shakedown for Rallye Monte-Carlo: his competitive debut behind the wheel of the Toyota Yaris WRC. Two-thirds of the team’s all-new line-up featured in the top three, with Elfyn Evans in third, while Kalle Rovanperä was seventh as he prepares for his first appearance at rallying’s highest level.
Car 17 (Sébastien Ogier, Julien Ingrassia)
The shakedown was held on a 3.35-kilometre stage close to the service park in Gap, with dry conditions giving the drivers a chance to get a good feeling with their machinery.
Ogier recorded a time of 1m57.1s on his first run over the stage, with that time remaining unbeaten. Evans was just six tenths of a second slower with his best effort, set on his second run. Rovanperä also improved on his second pass, finishing less than three seconds behind his team-mates.
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Rally Challenge Program driver Takamoto Katsuta rounded out the top 10 as he prepares for the first of eight events this season in an separately-run Toyota Yaris WRC.
Tom Fowler (Technical Director)
“Going into our first rally with the new drivers, they were all pretty settled on their setups after our successful pre-event tests, so there wasn’t much to do from a setup point-of-view in shakedown. Given the unpredictable nature of the weather on the Monte, we have a few different settings for the car depending on the conditions, so we did change a few things during shakedown just to run the parts in anticipation of the different possibilities that can come up over the weekend. Everything went smoothly for everybody, and Ogier posted the fastest time with the first run. You can’t take too much from the shakedown results, but it’s always nice. The road was then getting muddy so it was difficult to take much from the later runs. But everyone is feeling confident, so it’s a good start.”
Sébastien Ogier (Driver car 17)
“So far, everything is good and running like we were hoping. Shakedown doesn’t mean much and you don’t need to make any conclusions from the results, but it’s always a good sign if you are in the rhythm already. I’ve had the chance to have a good amount of testing already in the car before the start of the season. Of course, there are still some details to learn but the general feeling is there, and the sensations from the test came straight away here in shakedown. We can be confident heading into the rally, but this is probably the one rally of the season where you need to stay humble at the start as the conditions can make it so tricky.”
Elfyn Evans (Driver car 33)
“It was a really nice feeling to get started with the Yaris here in shakedown. I found a good feeling pretty much straight away. The car was working really well and I’m looking forward to getting going now. The shakedown was very dry to begin with, so I doubt it will be representative of the whole rally, but that’s typical Rallye Monte-Carlo. It would be nice if we can start the first stage with a clear, dry road, but I’m sure it will get interesting after that.”
Kalle Rovanperä (Driver car 69)
“It felt amazing to be in the car in shakedown. It was my first time back on asphalt after one month, and it was not so easy on the first run, but the second run was already better. The car was feeling really good and the setup also, and I think the small changes that we did in the test were now correct. There is still some work to do with myself for sure, but it feels good.”
1 Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Toyota Yaris WRC) 1m57.1s
2 Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +0.1s
3 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota Yaris WRC) +0.6s
4 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1.2s
5 Teemu Suninen/Jarmo Lehtinen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +2.3s
6 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Ford Fiesta WRC) +2.6s
7 Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota Yaris WRC) +2.9s
8 Gus Greensmith/Elliott Edmondson (Ford Fiesta WRC) +3.1s
9 Sébastien Loeb/Daniel Elena (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +3.3s
10 Takamoto Katsuta/Daniel Barritt (Toyota Yaris WRC) +4.8s
The rally starts from Monte Carlo’s famous harbour on Thursday evening before two night-time stages en-route back to Gap. The first test, Malijai-Puimichel, is being run for the first time since 1994. The darkness and falling temperatures can often combine to make a particularly tricky start to the season.