Sun 22 Jan 2023

Gryazin keeps Rossel at bay for WRC2 victory

Toksport's Nikolay Gryazin held his own against a fast-finishing Yohan Rossel to clinch WRC2 victory at Rallye Monte-Carlo on Sunday afternoon.

Having at one point led by more than 45 seconds on Saturday, Gryazin headed into Sunday's four-stage finale just 15.2sec clear after leaking time with a front puncture on Saturday evening. Pressure proceeded to mount on the Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 driver as second-placed Rossel, driving a Citroën C3 Rally2, continued to eat into his lead.

It was a nervy run for Gryazin on the Wolf Power Stage as he desperately tried to hold onto what was now only a 10.1sec buffer. With his tyres having seen better days, it was close - but Gryazin prevailed, edging Rossel by just 4.5sec at close of play,

"The front tyres were completely dead and I understeered a lot, but I just tried to keep it on the line," expressed a clearly relieved Gryazin at the end of the Wolf Power Stage.

Rossel will be left to rue what might have been after a stall on the startline of Thursday's opening stage cost the Frenchman at least five seconds.

The gripping battle which had been unfolding for third between Pepe López and Stephane Lefebvre fizzled out on Sunday morning when Lefebvre stopped to change a wheel on his C3, dropping over four minutes and tumbling down to ninth. 

This allowed López to safely fill the final podium spot in his Hyundai i20 N Rally2, ending 19.7sec ahead of fourth-placed Erik Cais who was making his debut in the all-new Škoda Fabia RS Rally2. López revealed at the end of the rally that he had been managing fuel surge issues throughout Saturday and Sunday.

M-Sport Ford Fiesta Rally2 youngster Adrien Fourmaux ended a further 26.0sec in arrears, while Briton Chris Ingram completed the top six aboard his older-generation Fabia Rally2 Evo. 

Such was his dominance, Gryazin also won the new WRC2 Challenger class. François Delecour, driving another Škoda, topped the WRC Masters Cup by more almost five minutes.

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