WRC – Tänak takes early 'Monte' lead | Federation Internationale de l'Automobile
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WRC – Tänak takes early 'Monte' lead

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Rallye Monte-Carlo - Thursday night

Ott Tänak has powered his Toyota Yaris WRC into a 9.1-second lead on the opening night of Rallye Monte-Carlo, the Estonian ahead of reigning World Rally Champion Sébastien Ogier after two stages on the first round of the 2019 FIA World Rally Championship. Thierry Neuville heads the Hyundai challenge in third, just 5.2 seconds further adrift.

After the opening ceremony in Gap, crews immediately headed to two new stages, both run in darkness and totalling 41.35 competitive kilometres. Tänak was on the pace from the outset and won the opener to claim a five-second advantage over the returning Kris Meeke. In the second stage, third fastest was enough to extend his lead, despite a spin in the tricky conditions. Ogier’s tyre choice proved safe for the first stage and he dropped 10.6 seconds, but regained some time in the next to climb into second position. Neuville dropped nearly 30 seconds in the opener, but then reeled in his rivals with fastest time on the clearer roads and overnights just 14.3 seconds off the lead.

Behind the leading trio Esapekka Lappi admitted he hadn’t had the best tyre strategy, but the Finn overnight in fourth on his debut with Citroën. Former team-mate and Yaris WRC driver Jari-Matti Latvala felt the car was too soft for the conditions and he lacked confidence as a consequence, but he is just 1.2 seconds behind Lappi. Elfyn Evans is in the lead Fiesta WRC in sixth, kicking himself for not pushing harder but happy to have a clean start. In comparison, team-mate Teemu Suninen went off and into retirement in the first stage. After setting a great pace, Meeke dropped down the order with a puncture and is seventh ahead of nine-time FIA World Rally Champion Sébastien Loeb. The Frenchman, despite his lack of seat-time in the Hyundai, was fourth but then eighth fastest through this evening’s stages - the second not optimum for his tyres - and he overnights in eighth. Andreas Mikkelsen is ninth and Pontus Tidemand rounds out the top 10 after a cautious start.

In the newly-created FIA WRC 2 Pro Championship, Gus Greensmith leads after Kalle Rovanperä went off, and Yoann Bonato tops the standings in the WRC 2 Championship, which is now solely for private entrants. He heads Nicolas Ciamin and Guillaume de Mevius.

Rallye Monte-Carlo – Unofficial results after Section 1


Ott Tänak / Martin Järveoja

Toyota Yaris WRC

26min 33.0sec


Sebastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia

Citroen C3 WRC

26min 42.1sec


Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul

Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC

26min 47.3sec


Esapekka Lappi / Janne Ferm

Citroen C3 WRC

27min 18.2sec


Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila

Toyota Yaris WRC

27min 19.4sec


Elfyn Evans / Scott Martin

Ford Fiesta WRC

27min 21.2sec


Kris Meeke / Sebastian Marshall

Toyota Yaris WRC

27min 26.8sec


Sebastien Loeb / Daniel Elena

Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC

27min 28.2sec


Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jǽger

Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC

27min 32.6sec


Pontus Tidemand / Ola Fløene

Ford Fiesta WRC

28min 14.1sec