Another stage, another win for Thierry Neuville as the Belgian took his victory tally at Rallye Monte-Carlo to four out of five with fastest time in Friday afternoon’s opening test.
Stage info: SS6
Agnières-en-Dévoluy – Le Motty 2, 24.63km
Set in the heart of the Dévoluy mountains, this test is pacy and mostly downhill on narrow roads that are far from easy. It twists and turns in and out of trees, and crosses several villages with stunning views of Lake Sautet and its dam before the finish in Le Motty. There is plenty of snow throughout the test.
He steered his Hyundai i20 Coupe through the 24.63km stage 6.5sec faster than Ott Tänak to increase his lead over the Estonian to 38.2sec.
The roads were more slushy than this morning and the Belgian admitted conditions were harder. “We’re cleaning a bit the line for the cars behind and it’s getting better for them. But for me this was more tricky than this morning and difficult to know what rhythm to go,” he said.
Tänak, like the other drivers, opted for studded winter tyres but also found conditions tough. “It’s melted since our ice crew went through, so we’re finding things out for ourselves. The car and notes are different from this morning but I think we had a clean run,” he said.
Sébastien Ogier was third in a Ford Fiesta, a further 6.7sec behind, and his deficit to Tänak rose to 34.1sec. Craig Breen, Jari-Matti Latvala and Dani Sordo completed the top six in the stage.
Elfyn Evans dropped more than a minute in his Fiesta and dropped off the bottom of the leaderboard. It allowed Jan Kopecký to regain a place in the top 10 following a morning puncture in his Skoda Fabia R5.