Fri 20 Jan 2023

Risk taker Gryazin grows WRC2 lead at Rallye Monte Carlo

Toksport driver Nikolay Gryazin was willing to take risks his rivals were avoiding to win four of six stages on Friday at Rallye Monte-Carlo, almost doubling his lead in WRC2.

Kicking off Friday with a 16.7sec lead over Stéphane Lefebvre, Gryazin was immediately on the pace - posting the second-quickest time through the day's opening test, just 0.7sec down on Yohan Rossel.

But not just comfortable with conserving his lead, the 25-year-old upped the ante in his Fabia RS Rally2 to go fastest on the next four stages, only slowing down slightly in the day's final test to ensure a 29.7sec lead over Rossel when the field returned to Monte-Carlo.

Frenchman Rossel begun the day in third after losing around five seconds with a costly stall on Thursday evening, but he leapfrogged fellow Citroën C3 Rally2 pilot Lefebvre courtesy of his stage win on the day's opener. Lefebvre ended the day in third, 17sec down on Rossel and a further 46.7sec back from Gryazin. 

Spanish up-and-comer Pepe López was unhappy with his tyre choice in the morning but a more positive afternoon aboard his Hyundai i20 N Rally2 and saw him finish the day a comfortable fourth overall, squeezed between Frenchmen Lefebvre and Adrien Fourmaux.

Former Rally1 driver Fourmaux will be happy to have succesfully navigated Friday in his M-Sport Ford Fiesta Rally2 without incident - particularly as he suffered a heavy crash on the same stages one year ago.

Rounding out the top six was Chris Ingram in a Fabia Rally2 Evo. Despite feeling a little rusty after a long time out of action, the Briton held his own in a battle against Erik Cais' latest generation Škoda. The pair are split by 4.2sec going into Saturday.

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