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WRC - Ogier on track for seventh title as Evans crashed out in Monza

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2020 ACI Rally Monza - Saturday afternoon

2020 WRC - ACI Rally Monza - S. Ogier/J. Ingrassia (photo ACI)

Frenchman Sébastien Ogier moved within touching distance of a seventh FIA World Rally Championship title after an extraordinary day at ACI Rally Monza on Saturday.

The Toyota driver completed the penultimate leg of the season finale with a 17.8sec lead in his Yaris, after team-mate and championship favourite Elfyn Evans crashed on treacherous snow-covered roads.

Three more speed tests at Monza’s famous Cathedral of Speed circuit on Sunday, covering 40.25km, stand between Ogier and the crown – but conditions in northern Italy are so demanding that it will be no walk in the park for the 36-year-old.

Third-placed Evans was fastest at the mid-stage split in this afternoon’s Gerosa test in the Italian Alps when he was caught out by the conditions. His Yaris slid down a bank into a tree.

Sportingly, Evans ran back down the road to warn Ogier of the impending hazard and prevent his colleague joining him in the undergrowth.

The pendulum swung to and fro between Ogier and Dani Sordo in a breathless morning battle on mainly wet roads after much of the snow that blanketed the area melted overnight.

The lead changed hands on every stage before Ogier pulled clear of the Spaniard, who chose caution over bravery after Evans’ demise, this afternoon. The deep snow caused the penultimate stage to be cancelled but Ogier was taking nothing for granted.

Ott Tänak ended third, 4.3sec behind team-mate Sordo. If the pair keep those places it would be sufficient for Hyundai Motorsport to retain the Manufacturers’ title.

Finns Esapekka Lappi and Kalle Rovanperä were fourth and fifth in a Ford Fiesta and Yaris. Lappi survived a spin and Rovanperä emerged unscathed after sliding into a wall.

FIA WRC3 leader Andreas Mikkelsen, Oliver Solberg and Jari Huttunen were next up, with FIA WRC2 leader Mads Østberg and Emil Lindholm completing the leaderboard.

Gus Greensmith and Ole Christian Veiby crashed out after violent accidents at the same corner, while Thierry Neuville did not restart following his retirement yesterday as Hyundai elected to keep the Belgian off the mountain roads.

In the FIA Junior WRC Championship, Tom Kristensson is now cruising towards his second consecutive title  Paraguay’s Fabrizio Zaldivar holds second overnight, almost 2.5 minutes behind the Swede, while the Brit Rui Bell is third. Kristensson’s closest class rival still in the title fight sits in fourth place with a gap of over 38 minutes.


2020 ACI Rally Monza – Unofficial Results after Section 9:

1. Sébastien Ogier (FRA) / Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Toyota Yaris WRC1 hr 47min 47.2sec
2. Dani Sordo (ESP) / Carlos del Barrio (ESP)Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC1 hr 48min 05.0sec
3. Ott Tänak (EST) / Martin Järveoja (EST)Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC1 hr 48min 09.3sec
4. Esapekka Lappi (FIN) / Janne Ferm (FIN) Ford Fiesta WRC1 hr 48min 25.42sec
5. Kalle Rovanperä (FIN) / Jonne Halttunen (FIN) Toyota Yaris WRC1 hr 48min 57.3sec
6. Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR) / Anders Jaeger (NOR) - WRC3Škoda Fabia Evo1 hr 51min 07.8sec
7. Oliver Solberg (SWE) / Aaron Johnston (IRL) - WRC3Škoda Fabia Evo1 hr 51min 22.1sec
8. Jari Huttunen (FIN) / Mikko Lukka (FIN) - WRC3Hyundai NG i201 hr 52min 03.8sec
9. Mads Ostberg (NOR) / Torstein Eriksen (FIN) - WRC2Citroën C31 hr 52min 26.2sec
10. Emil Lindholm (FIN) / Mikael Korhonen (FIN) - WRC3Škoda Fabia Evo1 hr 52min 53.8sec