Thu 19 Jan 2023

Ogier tops Monte-Carlo shakedown

The 2023 FIA World Rally Championship season roared into action at Rallye Monte-Carlo’s shakedown on Thursday morning. Sébastien Ogier was fastest out of the blocks.

  • Full coverage from Rallye Monte-Carlo is available on WRC+ All Live here, including every stage broadcast as it happens as well as key interviews, features and expert analysis from the service park.

The eight-time world champion, beginning his second consecutive part-programme for Toyota Gazoo Racing, stopped the clocks three-tenths of a second faster than GR Yaris Rally1 team-mate Kalle Rovanperä in the 2.29km mountain test from Sainte-Agnes to Peille.

Ogier bids for a record-breaking ninth Rallye Monte-Carlo victory this week – a feat he came close to achieving last season before a late puncture enabled old foe Sébastien Loeb to steal the spoils.

Hyundai Motorsport’s Thierry Neuville completed the podium a single tenth behind Rovanperä as just 1.1sec blanketed the leading six drivers.

“It's hard to know what to expect here, like always,” Ogier mused. “It's all about what conditions we are going to face - it looks like there is not so much snow but still they are tricky conditions with a little bit of frost already this morning.

“It's never an easy rally but I always enjoy being here. Of course, we are not really planning for the whole season but the focus for this event is still the same.”

Neuville was fastest in the opening run with his i20 N Rally1 before Rovanperä topped the timesheets on the next pass. Ogier swooped in front late in the session, posting the benchmark time on his third and final pass.

Elfyn Evans made it three Toyotas in the top four. He ended 0.1sec adrift of Neuville, whose team-mate Dani Sordo placed fifth another four-tenths behind.

The next two positions were held by M-Sport Ford duo Pierre-Louis Loubet and Ott Tänak – with the latter going against the clock for the very first time in a Puma.

"We will see how it goes,” Tänak said. “We have a lot to discover for sure and it's not going to be easy. Let's get it started and we will see where we are."

Another driver debuting in a new car this week is Esapekka Lappi, who moved from Toyota to Hyundai during the winter period. The Finn managed the eighth-best time, while Takamoto Katsuta and Jourdan Serderidis rounded out the leaderboard.

Latvia
Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Italy
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 7:00:00 AM
Hungary
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM