TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team has made a strong start to the 2023 season with Sébastien Ogier leading team-mate Elfyn Evans after the opening night of Rallye Monte-Carlo.
After the pre-event shakedown held on Thursday morning, the rally commenced as usual from Monaco’s iconic Casino Square. From there, the crews headed directly into the mountains above the Principality for two stages in the dark, the first of which finished atop the famous Col de Turini.
Ogier set the quickest time there by 1.3 seconds over Evans, and they repeated that one-two result on the second test, Ogier this time fastest by 4.7s. Six seconds separate the pair overnight with a further 9.4s back to the driver in third.
Kalle Rovanperä made a solid start to the defence of his championship title with a pair of fifth-fastest times and the same position overall, 17.1s from the lead.
Takamoto Katsuta, driving a fourth GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID through the TGR WRC Challenge Program, was an excellent fourth-quickest in the first stage but was slowed by a handbrake issue through the many hairpins on the second stage, and sits ninth overall.
End of day one (Thursday):
1 Sébastien Ogier/Vincent Landais (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) 26m33.7s
2 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) +6.0s
3 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Ford Puma Rally1 HYBRID) +15.4s
4 Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 HYBRID) +15.5s
5 Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) +17.1s
6 Dani Sordo/Cándido Carrera (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 HYBRID) +32.1s
7 Pierre-Louis Loubet/Nicolas Gilsoul (Ford Puma Rally1 HYBRID) +40.3s
8 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 HYBRID) +41.4s
9 Takamoto Katsuta/Aaron Johnston (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) +57.0s
10 Nikolay Gryazin/Konstantin Aleksandrov (Škoda Fabia RS Rally2) +1m06.6s