89th Rallye Monte-Carlo
18 - 24 January 2021
Highlight SS 10: Neuville a lot faster, Ogier still leading
Thierry Neuville (Hyundai), the winner last year, was very fast in Stage 10 and clocked his first best time of the 89th Monte-Carlo Rally, 110th Anniversary Edition. Even more interesting, he did it in style, reducing his gap on leader Sébastien Ogier (Toyota) by 42 seconds in the space of 20.48km, between Saint-Clément and Freissinières. At the time he passed on this road, a few minutes before Ogier, Neuville could enjoy winter conditions to the full and the studs of his Pirelli Sottozero winter tyres were efficient. A few minutes later, the sun was up, the snow and ice were melting, so Ogier’s studs were totally useless, and the same for Evans one minute later on the road. The Welshman also stalled in a hairpin, losing four more seconds on Ogier, and the Frenchman is still in the lead, but he was slightly worried at the end of the stage. Another Frenchman, youngster Pierre-Louis Loubet (Hyundai), for his first ever Monte-Carlo Rally, benefitted from this quick change of conditions and posted the 2nd best time of this SS10, thanks to the fact that was opening the road after crashing in SS7 on Friday. With one more stage to go on Saturday, Ogier now enjoys a 14-second advantage on Evans and the fight is still on, more than ever, for the last podium spot between Kalle Rovanperä, 3rd in the other Toyota, but 50 seconds behind Ogier, and Neuville, 1.4 second only behind the young Finn. Last but not least, the nightmare continues for Ott Tänak, who started the day in 3rd place. He had another puncture in SS10 and then finished a second consecutive stage on the rim. He is now 14th and almost 10 minutes behind Ogier. Game over, or almost.