Thursday | 24 Jan 2019

Meeke tops Monte-Carlo warm-up

Kris Meeke’s first rally day with Toyota Gazoo Racing started in the best possible way when he was fastest through Thursday morning’s shakedown at Rallye Monte-Carlo.

The Yaris World Rally Car driver edged world champion Sébastien Ogier by a tenth of a second in the 3.35km Gap test. New signings were to the fore as Ogier’s fellow Citroën C3 newcomer, Esapekka Lappi, completed the top three a further 0.4sec behind.

“My objective was just to get back into it. I’ve only done two days test for this rally and that was back in mid-December,” said Meeke, driving his first rally since being axed by Citroën last May,

“I even forgot to press the right buttons this morning on the startline. I missed the launch and the first run felt a bit odd because you can test as much as you want, but until you get into the rally environment it all feels a bit different. The second and third passes felt comfortable.”

Ogier was quickest through the opening run on dry asphalt just outside the rally’s start town. He remained at the top until Meeke moved ahead in the third of his five runs.

It was a good morning for Toyota as Ott Tänak and Jari-Matti Latvala were fourth and fifth, with Thierry Neuville completing the top six in a Hyundai i20.

Sébastien Loeb's Monte-Carlo return has attracted huge media interest

The returning Sébastien Loeb was 10th and admitted his preparations had been far from ideal, arriving for his Hyundai debut just days after finishing third in the Dakar Rally.

“I have no idea what I can do,” he said. “I know that I arrive here in a complicated situation to start a rally with a new car and only one-and-a-half day’s testing so it will be complicated.

“I cannot say I’m fully confident because with two passes on the recce and a long rally like this, the notes are not perfect.”

The leading times were:

1.Kris MeekeToyota Yaris1min 56.8sec
2.Sébastien OgierCitroën C3+ 0.1sec
3.Esapekka LappiCitroën C3+ 0.5sec
4.Ott TänakToyota Yaris+ 0.8sec
5.Jari-Matti LatvalaToyota Yaris+ 1.2sec
6.Thierry NeuvilleHyundai i20+ 1.6sec
7.Teemu SuninenFord Fiesta+ 1.7sec
8.Elfyn EvansFord Fiesta+ 2.0sec
9.Andreas MikkelsenHyundai i20+ 2.5sec
10.Sébastien LoebHyundai i20+ 2.9sec

Head to WRC+ to watch All Live from Rallye Monte-Carlo, including every stage broadcast live, breaking service park news and expert studio analysis.

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