Two Toyota drivers at the forefront, but not necessarily those we expected: the first special stage of 91st Rally Monte-Carlo, Thursday evening in prestigious Col de Turini, allowed Sébastien Ogier to take his first stage win of the week, ahead of Welshman Elfyn Evans. The Frenchman had been the quickest driver in the shakedown session, on Thursday morning, near Peille. He left no chance to any of his rivals and seized the chance to become the very first leader of this 2023 edition.
“It was fine, the conditions were very dry but very slippery at the end, because of the salt on the road. This is a very clean start for us. Anyone who says he is not tense either has a problem or he is lying”, Ogier said at the end of this SS1 (15.12km). Behind Ogier and Evans, honors were taken by Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) in 3rd place and Takamoto Katsuta (Toyota) in 4th, followed by Kalle Rovanperä (Toyota) in 5th.
That is four Toyota Yaris in the Top 5 of this nightly opening stage. And three slightly slower drivers: Ott Tänak (M-Sport Ford) 6th and eight seconds behind Ogier, because he suffered electrical problems in his hybrid Ford Puma, Pierre-Louis Loubet (M-Sport Ford) 7th at 10 seconds because he was a little too cautious for his first night in the Turini in a WRC car, and Dani Sordo (Hyundai) 9th at 12 seconds, due to a lack of confidence after two years of absence in the opening round of the WRC.